Monday, February 13, 2012

Intellectual Property and Imports

Enforcing intellectual property (ip) rights has become the hallmark area to which a majority of seizures stem from. It is vital that companies go through the procedures for registering their trademarks, copyrights, etc with Customs. There is a balancing act that must be accounted for, the rights of the owner protecting its exclusive property interest versus any user (whether innocent or not) who is subject to intelectual property infringement. However, if Customs is unaware as to the "marks" (i.e. they are not registered) goods may come in that violate a true owners ip rights. Thereafter it is too late; the damage has bee done, and consumer attitude towards a product becomes compromised.

Once an ip right is registered with Customs, all ports are given notice as to detain merchandise that is believed to be infringing. Customs will then give the ip holder with the opportunity to confirm or deny that a violation has occurred. Further, Customs will allow the potential infringer with the opportunity to remedy the situation by geting permission from the ip holder to import the goods. Absent this permission the violator will be fined and the merchandise subject to forfeiture actions. Further, the ip holder will know the identity of the violator who may sue them individually or keep tabs on their importing activity.

It is recommended that you be careful as to any product you import. Failure to take precautions will leave the importer subject to liability and severely tarnish your business.

Happy Importing :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Made in the good old USA

There are often substantial differences depending on the country regarding the determination as to the country of origin. A product that is produced for export in the United States may not be eligible for sale in the United States.

It is wonderful to see and hear of companies keeping production within the United States and bring jobs to Americans as opposed to having production done overseas. All the more so I give these companies credit because to use the term "Made in USA," on products requires strict adherence to the laws. Goods that are distributed in the United States are governed by United States law, and the rules instituted by the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC").

The FTC does not pre-approve claims for labeling products as "Made in USA". In order for a a product to be called "Made in USA," the product must be "all or virtually all" made in the U.S.

What does "all or virtually all" mean?

The FTC states that "All or virtually all" means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. That is, the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.

Therefore, be sure that you have a reasonable basis for complying with the "Made in USA" requirements and have all documentation necessary in case you are questioned.

Happy Importing :)