Tools to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the United States


One of the frequently noted yet seldom discussed benefits of trademark and copyright registration in the United States is the ability to record those registrations with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Recording US trademark and copyright registrations with CBP can provide fashion brands with valuable information to inform their efforts in the fight against counterfeit goods for a relatively low cost. The cost to record trademarks with CBP is $190 per international class registered; for copyrights, the cost is $190 per registration. These fees allow brand owners to record their intellectual property with CBP for a term of 20 years.

In addition, the brand owner is required to provide information to CBP regarding authorized shipments. This information includes the place of manufacture of goods bearing the recorded intellectual property, the name and address of each foreign entity authorized or licensed to use the trademark and a brief description regarding the authorized use, and information about affiliates that use the mark abroad.

CBP review goods coming into the United States on the lookout for shipments of counterfeit products. Information that has been recorded with CBP becomes part of its database, and is used to distinguish between authorized and counterfeit goods, thereby allowing authorized goods bearing the recorded intellectual property to enter the US market without any undue delay. When CBP identifies a shipment that appears to be counterfeit, it will hold the goods and a CBP officer will contact the owner of the recorded intellectual property, or its representative, to request confirmation as to whether the shipment in question is authorized. In this communication, CBP will provide the owner with photos of the goods seized along with contact information for the shipper and intended recipient. If the goods are not authorized, CBP will destroy them. Alternatively, the intellectual property owner has the option of requesting the goods for an additional fee.

Using the information provided by CBP, brand owners gain key information about potential enforcement targets, both in the United States and abroad. In the United States, brand owners can identify US retailers and distributors selling counterfeit goods and pursue action to recover royalties and prevent the further distribution of counterfeit goods in the US market. Moreover, contacts with importers of counterfeit goods can inform brands about yet unidentified manufacturing sources of counterfeit goods abroad, which can guide their enforcement efforts globally.

Thus, for a fairly modest cost, recording US trademark and copyright registrations with CBP can be an important source of valuable information for brands in their efforts to combat the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit goods.

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