Will a New Customs Rule Help Trademark Owners Track Counterfeit Goods?

As a trademark attorney, I am hopeful that a new rule proposed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will help trademark owners prevent counterfeit goods from entering the U.S. market. The Intellectual Property Rights Interim Final Rule would allow the agency to share information about potentially infringing products with trademark holders.

As detailed by the CBP, the IFR amends, on an interim basis, CBP regulations pertaining to importations of merchandise bearing recorded trademarks or recorded trade names. These changes provide a pre-seizure procedure for disclosing information about imported merchandise suspected of bearing a counterfeit mark for the limited purpose of obtaining the right holder’s assistance in determining whether the mark is counterfeit or not.

Prior to this rule, the agency had interpreted the Trade Secrets Act to bar such disclosures. However, as the interim rule notes, “The protection afforded by the Trade Secrets Act, however, must be balanced against the important and legitimate interests of government.”

Under the new rule, the CFP is authorized to disclose to an intellectual property rights holder, information appearing on merchandise or its retail packaging that may comprise information otherwise protected by the Trade Secrets Act. This information includes photographs, a sample of the goods and/or their retail packaging as well as serial numbers, universal product codes, and stock keeping unit numbers.

This amendment also establishes a procedure to protect importers. It requires that before any information or sample is sent to the right holder, the importer will be provided notice, and an opportunity to show that the suspect merchandise is authentic.

How Can I Help?

I can assist you in policing your trademark rights. I have prevented the importation of articles that infringe my clients’ trademarks. I have a solid history of obtaining seizure orders, temporary restraining orders, injunctions and favorable judgments for my clients.

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