Friday, June 21, 2013

U.S. Customs Seizures of Counterfeit Fashion Items

Well, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) asks the very same questions. All the big designers register their trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  The more sophisticated trademark owners then also record their trademarks with CBP. CBP officers protect recorded trademarks by preventing the importation of merchandise attempting to enter the United States which may be counterfeit or otherwise infringe on the trademark rights of the trademark owner. Commonly counterfeited trademark examples are UL, HP, Apple, Microsoft, Wi-Fi, SD, Bluetooth, and HDMI. Counterfeiting is a $600 billion international business.

Both trademarks and copyrights are recorded with CBP through the Intellectual Property Rights e-Recordation online system. This system allows CBP to obtain information instantly which facilitates the seizure of fake goods. Customs officers investigate imports displaying the designer's marks, and verifies if they are genuine. The cargo arrives in the United States and is detained by CBP officers.  Often, the importer is asked to provide written licenses from the trademark owner authorizing the manufacture and importation of the items.  Often, a sample of the detained items is shipped to the trademark owner for careful examination. Once the trademark owner confirms that the item is counterfeit, CBP seizes it.

A formal letter from CBP's Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures Office is eventually sent to the importer.The importer can then file a Petition with CBP requesting the release of the items. Sometimes, the importer decides to go to Court to get its merchandise released. The trademark owner is then much more involved in the process.

For more information on how to protect your designer marks or other trademarks using CBP, contact:

Peter Quinter, Esq.
Chair, Customs and International Trade Law Group
Shareholder, GrayRobinson, P.A.
1221 Brickell Avenue, Suite 1600
Miami, Florida 33131

Direct:  305-416-6960


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