Protecting intellectual property rights is a subject that the Dilendorf Law Firm takes very seriously. Our client companies are fully informed and guided on the best practices related to copyright and trademark protections through the U.S. Government and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
One of the common misconceptions related to intellectual property is that registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides enough protection against intellectual property theft, but that not sufficient for importers. In addition to USPTO, it is important to register a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs in order to prevent the unauthorized importation of counterfeit merchandise that bears the same copyright or trademark. Beyond giving public notice of the rightful owner of intellectual property, CBP also prevents counterfeit goods from entering, exiting or being in-transit through the United States.
CBP Copyright and Trademark Protections
When the intellectual property rights (IPR) of a company are recorded with U.S. Customs, an infringement of these rights through unauthorized merchandise is easily detected. Throughout the 300+ ports of entry across the country, U.S. Customs officers use the same electronic database to target suspect shipments for physical examination, which ultimately prevents infringing goods from entering or exiting the country. Even products that are in transit to a non-US destination but passing through U.S. Customs will be subject to the same type of enforcement.
Beyond the seizure and forfeiture of infringing goods, U.S. Customs has broad authority to protect IPR and issue fines against any person or entity attempting to import counterfeit merchandise, and may go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to request criminal prosecution for those involved. The Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984 allows first-time violators to be subject to penalties as high as a $2,000,000 fine and/or up to ten years’ imprisonment. Repeat offenders are subject to fines as high as $5,000,000 and/or 20 years’ imprisonment.
The customs attorneys at the Dilendorf Law Firm work closely with importers and exporters to ensure their intellectual property is well protected from counterfeiters by registering with the U.S. Customs’ new Intellectual Property Rights e-recordation (IPRR) system. CBP’s online IPRR database allows right holders to record their trademarks and copyrights by registering them with CBP. Once recorded, the IPR is searchable on the CBP search system.
Gray Market Goods
In addition to recording copyrights and trademarks with CBP registration, our firm recommends obtaining “gray market” protection from U.S. Customs. Gray market goods are often indistinguishable from the trademark merchandise that is owned and recorded by a U.S. corporation or citizen. Either identical or substantially indistinguishable from the original product, these goods are unauthorized and imported without the knowledge of the rights holder.
The Dilendorf Law Firm recognizes the importance of accurately and timely recording of intellectual property rights with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and we advise many clients on the best ways to legally protect their trademarks and copyrights.
- The Digital Millenium Copyright Act – U.S. Copyright Office
- Copyright Law of the United States – U.S. Copyright Office
- Report Counterfeit or Pirated Goods – STOPfakes.gov
- Enforcement of Copyrights and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act – Federal Register
- Trademark, Patent, or Copyright? – U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- Basic Facts About Trademarks – U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- Protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Overseas – U.S. Patent and Trademark Office