Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights at Customs

Fake and pirated goods always seek entry into the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are spread across more than 300 ports of entry by land, air, and sea.

They are responsible for what comes in. Part of their goal is to keep fakes and other unlawful goods from entering U.S. territory and violating its laws and regulations.

 

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CBP protects intellectual property

At the port of entry, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers examine shipments before they allow them into the United States. Often, they find goods that carry infringing trademarks or copyrights.

If the rights have been registered in the United States and then recorded through the Customs and Border Protection e-Recordation Program, officers have the authority to stop such goods and prevent them from entering.

 

CBP seizures

Every year, CBP seizes millions of counterfeit goods. In fiscal year 2020, CBP seized 26,503 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights.

It is estimated that the value of these goods, had they been genuine products, is nearly $1.3 billion. The goods include electronics, smartphones, watches, apparel, footwear, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and supplements, medical devices, and more.

2021 has just started, and officers in Minneapolis already intercepted more than $550,000 of fake designer apparel, according to a CBP media release. The goods arrived in two shipments from Laos and included handbags, wallets, fanny packs, and phone cases.

They carried logos from designers like Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and others. Upon screening, an import specialist found the shipments violated trademark and copyright laws. In short, they were all fakes.

 

Combat infringements

 Intellectual property rights are necessary to combat the increasing numbers of illegal items inside U.S. borders. Owners of trademarks and copyrights registered in the U.S. can record their rights with Customs and Border Protection.

Recordation is a tool to help prevent infringing goods from entering into U.S. territory.

 

Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights at Customs

 

Recordation with CBP

With recordation, intellectual property owners get enforcement assistance from CBP officers. At ports of entry across the U.S., officers are actively looking for abuse of your trademarks and copyrights. The enforcement tool is available to owners of existing rights.

Moreover, it is available to owners of pending copyright applications on a temporary basis. To register a pending application, owners must show proof of application to register a copyright.

Recordation of trademarks and copyrights with the CBP requires a simple process. The Customs Border Protection (CBP) has an electronic application. Each recordation requires a separate application with a fixed fee.

Currently, the cost for recordation with CBP for trademarks is $190 per International Class of goods, as stated by the CBP.

The recordation is in force together with the USPTO registration, and they should be renewed together. Renewal costs $80 per trademark, per class for unexpired trademark recordation. Copyright recordation and renewal fees for U.S. copyrights are the same, but for a 20-year term.

 

e-Recordation application

As we said, the application is simple. Let’s go a little into the details.

First, you need to register your trademark or copyright with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the U.S. Copyright Office (USCOP). Then, all you need is a copy of the registration certificate with the registration number, an image of the trademark or copyrighted work, the names of the rights owners and their business address, and the countries of manufacture. Also, submit any parent company or subsidiary if one is authorized to use the trademark or copyright.

 

 

CBP protection

After CBP records the rights, it adds them to the CBP database. The public version of the searchable database can be found here: http://iprs.cbp.gov

When the need arises, officers use the database to check goods against the records. When a CBP officer screens a shipment and finds suspected counterfeits, for example, he has the authority to detain the shipment.

CBP then contacts the rights owner to verify the authenticity of the goods. The importer is also notified and has seven business days to challenge the detention decision. If the goods are genuine, he can prove it and solve the issue. But if they are counterfeits, CBP can almost always seize them and eventually destroy them.

 

Working with CBP

After the recordation is complete, intellectual property owners can add information to help CBP officers when they examine shipments to U.S. ports of entry.

A rights owner may upload Product Identification Guides he produces and images of the protected rights. The guide can give information on how to distinguish fakes from genuine items. By doing so, you can help the CBP help you. This information you share with the CBP is confidential, and the goal is to help better protect your rights. CBP also offers recordation holders to hold in-person or online training to CBP personnel.

Rights holders can also submit e-allegations of infringing shipments if they have information about such shipments. You help border enforcement, and the CBP protects your rights.

 

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Q&A

How can I apply for a trademark or copyright recordation?

Go to the electronic application for recordation of intellectual property rights.

What information should I send for recordation?

The CBP recommends the following for the recordation application process:

  • U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Registration Number or the U.S. Copyright Office Registration Number
  • Images of the protected mark/work in “.jpg,” “.gif” or “.pdf” format that accurately depict the right to be protected.
  • Evidence of a pending application for registration at the U.S. Copyright Office, if recording an unregistered copyright with CBP.

Do I have to renew existing recordation?

Yes, a separate application should be submitted for every recordation renewal.

Does the CBP recordation program protect U.S. design patents?

Currently, the recordation does not extend to protect U.S. design patents.

 

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