Protect your Trademark or Copyright by Recording it with CBP
What is a CBP Recordation?
Many companies mistakenly believe that registering a trademark or copyright with the U.S. Government provides the same protection and remedies as recording those materials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The processes achieve two different goals. The reason to register a trademark or copyright with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to give the public notice of one’s ownership of the trademark or copyright. On the other hand, the purpose of recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs is to partner with U.S. Customs to prevent the unauthorized importation of merchandise which bears a recorded trademark or copyright. U.S. Customs prevents counterfeit products from entering or exiting the United States (and included in transit goods) when registered trademark or copyright holders record their trademarks or copyrights with U.S. Customs.
Does CBP Take Recordations Seriously?
CBP takes Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement very seriously, in fact, it’s a priority. Shipments not destined for the U.S., that are merely in transit (for example from China for a brief stop in Miami to the ultimate destination in Latin America), are no exception. The fact that CBP enforces IPR rights for in-transit merchandise is one thing but the reality is that if CBP is to protect IPR rights, then why should it stop at products solely destined for the U.S.?
When a trademark or copyright is recorded with U.S. Customs, infringing merchandise may easily be detected by U.S. Customs at all 328 official ports of entry across the country. Once a trademark or copyright is recorded with U.S. Customs, the owner’s information is entered into an electronic database accessible to over 60,000 U.S. Customs officers in the United States and overseas. U.S. Customs uses this information to target suspect shipments for the purpose of physically examining merchandise which ultimately prevents the importation or exportation of infringing goods. To make sure a trademark or copyright is properly recorded with U.S. Customs, consult with a lawyer at TITA. TITA lawyers are familiar with the process and familiar with teaching CBP how to look out for infringers.
What are the Advantages to Recording a Trademark or Copyright?
The most obvious advantage to recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs, is that U.S. Customs will monitor and seize infringing merchandise at the ports of entry so that the trademark or copyright holder does not have to locate and prosecute every unauthorized importer, distributor, retailer illegally using its trademark or copyright.
U.S. Customs has the authority to issue monetary fines against anyone who facilitates the attempted introduction into the U.S. of seized and forfeited counterfeit merchandise. U.S. Customs may go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and request that those involved in the illegal activity be criminally prosecuted under the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984. First time violators of this Act are subject to penalties of up to ten years imprisonment and/or a $2,000,000 fine, while repeat offenders are subject to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $5,000,000.
Is it an Easy Process?
Trademark and copyright recordations may now be filed online with U.S. Customs’ new Intellectual Property Rights e-Recordation (IPRR) online system. CBP’s IPRR system allows holders of registered trademarks and copyrights to record their registration with CBP, so that CBP can police the borders for infringing goods. Once recorded, it is entered into an online search system named IPRS. CBP officers can be trained to identify and interdict counterfeit goods. Before logging on to record a trademark or copyright, a trademark or copyright holder should be extremely knowledgeable with the Customs regulations found in 19 CFR Part 133, and the specific questions that will be asked on the application. Otherwise, consult with a lawyer at TITA to protect your legal rights.
What are Grey Market Goods?
It is advisable to attempt to obtain “gray market” protection from U.S. Customs. “Gray market” goods are foreign-made articles bearing a genuine trademark or trade name identical with, or substantially indistinguishable from one owned and recorded by a citizen of the United States or a corporation or association created or organized within the United States, which are imported without the authorization of the U.S. holder.
What is the Benefit to my Company?
If you took the time to register your trademark or copyright with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office then consider taking the extra step to record that trademark or copyright with CBP. Wouldn’t you want CBP to stop infringers, even if they are just passing through for a brief moment?
It is extremely beneficial for a company to record its registered trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs, as U.S. Customs may be a company’s greatest, and most cost effective ally when it comes to trademark and copyright enforcement.