Every day, counterfeit goods are imported into the United States from bad actors abroad. Common examples you may think of include knock-off Louis Vuitton purses or fake Nike shoes manufactured in China. The importation of such goods not only threatens the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, but it also causes confusion amongst consumers, and may even jeopardize the health and safety of citizens.
If you have a product that you believe could be counterfeited and shipped to the U.S. from overseas, you can take steps to stop such merchandise from making it through customs. One of the most important ways this is done is by having a federally registered trademark and then recording your mark directly with U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
By adding your mark to CBP’s database, it gives them the ability to more closely examine any goods or merchandise that may potentially infringe on your trademark before they are allowed into the country.
Recording a trademark with CBP is a relatively easy and straightforward process. The steps are as follows:
- Make sure you have a federally registered trademark. Common law rights and pending trademarks are not enough. Your mark must be registered for a specific good on the Principal Record.
- Complete an application electronically using CBP’s Intellectual Property Rights Recordation system and pay all required fees.
- You may be required to renew your registration at certain intervals. Note any key dates provided by CBP and make sure to complete any necessary paperwork.
Once a trademark is successfully recorded, the CBP will use the data when reviewing shipments that are suspected to be counterfeit, or that use a mark that infringes on a U.S. brand. If this occurs, CBP will contact the trademark owner and provide samples (usually photographs) to find out if the shipment is legitimate. If the products are illegitimate, CBP will take physical possession of the items and destroy the shipment to prevent the products from reaching consumers in the United States.
In all, recording your federally registered trademark with CPB is a wise idea if you manufacture a popular product or one that is otherwise at a higher risk of being counterfeited abroad. Doing so provides an extra layer of protection to your brand and empowers CBP to intercept questionable products before they make their way into the marketplace.
If you have additional questions about registering you mark with Customs and Border Protection, or you’d like to start the process of federally registering your trademark so that you can pursue all the protections that are available to you, contact us at (888) 666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.