Protecting Your Brand: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Originally posted 2017-02-27 12:05:48

By Diana Chan |

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Last summer, the United States Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) in Los Angeles, California, seized over 16,000 counterfeit Hermès handbags, valued at $295,665. If they were genuine Hermès handbags, the total retail price would have been nearly $211 million.  In May of this year, CBP in Jersey City, New Jersey, intercepted 185 counterfeit guitars bearing trademarks such as Gibson, Les Paul, and Martin. The counterfeit guitars were being sold for $200 to $500, while the retail price of genuine models range from $2,000 to $54,000.

These profit margins show how counterfeits bearing registered trademarks and pirated works can have a drastic effect on the business as well as the image of the brand.  Businesses, however, can protect their intellectual property rights by utilizing the CBP as a resource to prevent the importation of infringing goods.

In order to more effectively ensure that counterfeit or pirated products of your brand are blocked from entering the U.S., there are a few steps that will make it easier for the CBP to protect the intellectual property rights of your business.

  1. Register your trademark or copyright with the CBP through their electronic filing system. Once your trademark/copyright is in the CBP’s database, CBP officers will be better equipped to determine whether an item entering the US is infringing your trademark or copyright.
  2. Provide the CBP with a product identification guide that contains information such as company information, the intellectual property owned, contact information, registration number, recordation number, characteristics of the product, photos of the product, photos of counterfeits, and any other relevant information. The detailed information in the guide will enhance the CBP’s knowledge of your brand in order to recognize infringing or pirated goods.
  3. Be proactive. If you know of any infringing products or possible shipments of infringing goods entering the U.S., notify the CBP.

The CBP checks incoming goods at over 300 ports of entry in the U.S. and is certainly a crucial tool in protecting any business’s brand.


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