Monthly Archives

October 2011

ImportSeizures

Invalidated Trademarks may Still Cause Your Products to be Seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but There’s a Solution.

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog October 19, 2011 0 comments
Michael De Biase

Among its other duties, U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") has the daunting task and responsibility to search and seize products that are counterfeit or otherwise infringe the intellectual property rights of original goods manufacturers. This is accomplished through CBP’s Intellectual Property Rights Recordation System. As the name suggests, trademark and copyright owners record their intellectual property rights with CBP and CBP keeps records of such recordings via this system, which can be accessed online at http://iprs.cbp.gov/. Using this system, an importer can determine if any of the products that it is importing actually violate the intellectual property rights of somebody else. However, there is a big problem with this system that can cause CBP to wrongfully seize goods, thereby inflicting substantial monetary damages and significant delays in delivery times.

Intellectual property rights are not absolute and can therefore be challenged and cancelled through the U.S. federal court system. When a trademark is cancelled, the U.S. district court has to notify and direct the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") to remove the trademark registration from the USPTO’s registrar. Until CBP is notified that the trademark has been cancelled, CBP will continue to seize products that potentially infringe the rights of the now cancelled trademark. This causes products to be wrongfully seized, and, in turn costs the importer tens of thousands of dollars as well as significant delays.

To avoid falling victim to this situation, you must contact an attorney. An attorney can perform the proper legal research to determine whether your shipment contains products that are likely to be seized for infringement of intellectual property rights. In such an instance, the old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" really holds true.

CosmeticsFDA IssuesImport

How to Comply with International Inconsistencies in FDA Cosmetic Labeling Requirements

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog October 11, 2011 0 comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has strict labeling requirements for cosmetic products.  One area that consistently causes confusion among companies that distribute cosmetic products to countries on different continents is the area of labeling. Different products have different labeling requirements depending on the application of the product, the type of ingredient being labeled, the size of the product, and the country to which the product will be shipped. For example, the rules regarding how to describe color additives for products entering the U.S. are different than those for Canada and Europe.

Fortunately, it is possible to comply with the labeling requirements for the U.S. as well as Canada and Europe using only one label. In fact, it can even be accomplished with a product bearing a label as small as that of mascara. Accomplishing this is greatly beneficial to these companies because they can take advantage of economies of scale and taper production costs by merely having one label printed to be distributed to several countries.  However, this is a delicate maneuver that, if not done properly, will likely result in seizure and detention by the FDA or a foreign country’s equivalent agency. This will cause delays in the shipments, and may cause civil penalties and forfeiture of the products.

To avoid this common mistake and take advantage of the fact that one label may be used throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, you should contact an attorney well versed in the FDA regulations. Taking this precautionary measure is an investment in greater profits and peace of mind.