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Seizures

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31,560 Shipments Were Seized by CBP in 2016 for ONE Reason

posted by Jennifer Diaz March 23, 2017 0 comments

ipr

Last year, on a typical day the U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) seized about $3.8 million worth of products because of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Violations. CBP reported that the total number of IPR seizures has increased nine (9) percent since last year, from 28,865 in 2015 to 31,560 in 2016. With the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) exceeding $1.3 trillion.

What is Causing the Increase in Seizures?

Recordation of Trademark And Copyright With The CBP

In addition to registration of IPR with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO for trademarks), or the U.S. Copyright Office (for copyrights), owners can record said trademark or copyright with CBP. This additional step grants CBP additional enforcement power in both seizing counterfeit and piratical goods as well as thereafter issuing penalties for the MSRP value of the goods. In previous blog posts, we explained benefits of taking the extra step of recording your registered trademark or copyright with CBP, and CBP’s additional enforcement powers as a result of the recordations. Continue Reading

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Top Successes of Diaz Trade Law (DTL) & Diaz Trade Consulting (DTC) in 2016!

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 26, 2017 0 comments

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DTL saved clients MILLIONS of dollars in 2016, below we list a summary of some of our compliance successes!

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP)

  • Assisted an importer in having $434,486.00 worth of goods seized returned to it in a RECORD 24 working days, with a signed settlement agreement with CBP in a record 17 working days!
  • Assisted an importer in having $324,466.00 worth of goods seized for an underlying AES violation returned.
  •  Assisted importers in filing prior disclosures that were accepted by CBP, advising of errors found, and avoiding substantial penalties.
  •  Assisted importers in successfully responding to CBP 28’s and 29’s resulting in close outs, and no further enforcement action by CBP!
  •  Assisted importers in creating and maintaining pre-compliance programs to evaluate intellectual property rights and pre-report merchandise to CBP resulting in expedited entry into the U.S. with no delays or examinations by CBP.

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Best PracticesCBPCounterfeitsImportIPR, Trademarks and LogosSeizuresU.S.Customs

U.S. Customs – Your Personal Policeman at the Border

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 6, 2016 2 Comments

counterfeitMany companies mistakenly believe that registering a trademark or copyright with the U.S. Government provides sufficient protection and remedies, and, therefore, do not take the extra step to record those trademarks or copyrights with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Customs).

The processes achieve two completely different goals.

Registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office gives public notice of one’s ownership of the trademark or copyright. On the other hand, the purpose of recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs is to partner with the agency in preventing the unauthorized importation of merchandise that bears a recorded trademark or copyright. U.S. Customs prevents counterfeit and otherwise infringing products from entering or exiting the United States for registered trademark or copyright holders who have recorded their trademarks or copyrights with Customs. Continue Reading

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Cuban Cigars Seized by CBP

posted by Jennifer Diaz September 22, 2016 0 comments

Mark Twain once said, “I never smoke to excess – that is, I smoke in moderation, only one cigar at a time.”cuban-cigars-seize-2

With the loosening of restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba, including the authorization to import Cuban Cigars (for personal use only, under a certain value), persons under “U.S. jurisdiction” are getting caught right and left trying to take advantage and import more than their share of Cuban cigars to the US. In May of this year, Maxim magazine declared Cuban Cigars are still the worlds best. However, as relations thaw, will the Cuban cigar be able to take back the market share it lost in the past half century when countries like Dominican Republic and Nicaragua have served the US? That is a question recently posed by Will Yakwowicz in an article for Inc. earlier this year.

Although you are allowed to bring Cuban cigars back to the U.S. (if you are on an “authorized trip” to Cuba) there is a limit and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can, and will, seize any amount over the allowed limit.

What is the scope and limit on how many cigars I can bring in?

Will Customs and Border Protection seize as little as 1 cigar?

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The End of Vape Shops, Hookah Shops, & E-Cigs? FDA’s New “Deeming” Laws

posted by Jennifer Diaz May 26, 2016 0 comments

 How to comply

On April 24, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) announced that it was officially “deeming” e-cigs, e-hookah, vape pens, and other tobacco products subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). This article covered the proposed regulation at the time. On May 10, 2016 the FDA published the final rule on the new deeming law.

What Are Tobacco Products and What’s Being Regulated?

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Ongoing Hoverboard Concerns

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 27, 2016 1 Comment

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Address Ongoing Litigation & Seizure of one of the hottest toys, the Hoverboard.

Hoverboards, as they are commonly known, are self-balancing two-wheeled electric scooters.  They are powered by controversial rechargeable batteries that have recently garnered attention for malfunctioning, causing devices to catch fire and destroy homes.  The lithium-ion batteries have been known to overheat, catch fire, and explode without warning.

Several airlines have begun to prohibit transportation of the boards aboard aircraft, due to safety concerns.  Amazon.com is placing safety first and offering consumers that have purchased a hoverboard from Amazon a full refund.  Hoverboards are also facing additional litigation from Mark Cuban, who potentially has a patent infringement claim against Walmart for selling the devices.

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Exports from China are on the Rise – What is your IPR Plan?

posted by Jennifer Diaz July 18, 2014 0 comments

made in ChinaOn April 11, amid a high demand for soccer apparel in preparation for FIFA World Cup, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized counterfeit soccer apparel shipped from China to the Port of Savannah. The value of the seized goods exceeded $1 million in manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). The apparel seized contained counterfeit trademarks of the following professional soccer clubs: Arsenal, Barcelona, Celtic, Chelsea, Mexican Federation, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid.  Little did they know they should have tried to import Germany’s soccer club’s apparel.

“You look at that Chelsea patch, and it just looks off,” said Steve Sapp, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “The last B is smaller than the rest, and that’s the kind of thing you often see with these counterfeit goods. Our investigators know the signs that these goods aren’t real.”  Both images are provided below for you to see for yourself – check out the extra space at the top, and the “u” in club.

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International Travelers Beware – U.S. Customs WILL Seize Your Money…

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 13, 2013 4 Comments

Money given away

International travelers often contact me with the same distraught face as the man pictured to my left, after their money is confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a result of not properly declaring currency on hand.

Declaration Form 6059B will look familiar to all international travelers as you fill it out when entering the U.S.  Many times, the rationale for seizure is that parties traveling together split their currency, and even though together they have over the $10,000 minimum, the travelers advise they are each carrying less then the $10,000 minimum requirement for reporting (in question 13 of Form 6059B), resulting in ALL of the currency on hand being seized. On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2015, CBP seized $356,396 in undeclared or illicit currency.

Recently, CBP seized $82,000 of currency, and arrested the female driver, after discovering three packages of bulk currency hidden within a vehicle as a female driver attempted to exit the U.S. and enter Mexico.

During this holiday season, this post will tell you what you need to know to assure it’s NOT YOU that has their currency seized when traveling internationally!

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Large Seizure by CBP Highlights High Margins of Counterfeiting, and Necessity of Recordation

posted by Jennifer Diaz November 4, 2013 0 comments

Co Authored by Michael De Biase 

One of CBP’s latest news releases, dated September 27, 2013, noted that more than 16,000 counterfeit Hermes handbags were seized by Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) because Hermes took the extra step of recording their intellectual property with CBP.   Not surprisingly, when you analyze the difference between the alleged value of the counterfeit products (reported to CBP) as compared to the suggested retail price of the genuine goods, you have a grave difference. In this case, $295,665 (value of counterfeit goods) compared to $210,785,475 (value of genuine goods).  That’s over $210 million worth of potential profits for the counterfeiters, at the expense of Hermes – a crime in every sense. Because Hermes recorded its intellectual property with CBP, CBP seized this infringing merchandise, and will also have the ability to issue a penalty for the MSRP of the merchandise. Yes, that means a penalty in the amount of $210,785,475 will be coming to the counterfeiters!

Most often, counterfeiters target large luxury brands whose goodwill and name recognition has a certain element of exclusivity.  While some may not sympathize with profitable companies, what they fail to realize is that counterfeiting hurts in a variety of other ways. Counterfeiting hurts consumers who buy products under the false impression that they are genuine, companies whose goodwill is tarnished by the inferior quality of the counterfeit products bearing their brands, and it hurts those who worked hard to build something of substantial value.  In this case, Hermes lost out on, potentially, more than $210 million dollars in revenue.  That is not only felt by Hermes the corporation, it hurts the retail stores and the malls they’re in, the shipping companies, the raw materials developers, and the families of the employees for all of these parties.

Luckily for importers and consumers, CBP recognizes the importance of intellectual property protection and provides assistance in stopping the infringing products at our borders.  CBP’s Intellectual Property Rights Recordation (“IPRR”) system allows holders of registered trademarks and copyrights to record their registration with CBP, so that CBP can police the borders for infringing goods.  Once recorded, it is entered into a online search system named IPRS. According to the news released mentioned above regarding catching counterfeiting Hermes at the border, once intellectual property is recorded with CBP,

CBP officers are trained to identify and interdict counterfeit goods, and this is a great example of how their training and expertise are employed every day in our ports of entry,” said CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles Todd C. Owen

Considering the incentives for counterfeiters along with the potential losses for intellectual property rights holders, companies that import merchandise must consider recordation a necessity. Importantly, when you record your marks, you must go to an expert in this area – as this is your opportunity to train CBP on the methods of policing your mark – and only trained experts can work on this proficiently so you have the best results with CBP, like Hermes did. To learn more about the top four benefits of recording your intellectual property, review this article.

To get started on recording your intellectual property, or if you have any questions on how to best have CBP police your recorded trademarks and copyrights, please contact Michael or me

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Florida Companies Convicted and Sentenced

posted by Jennifer Diaz June 24, 2013 0 comments

Co Authored by Robert Becerra

In another example of the government’s continuing use of the criminal justice system to enforce international trade laws, three Florida companies and their management were recently convicted and sentenced for importing smuggled toys from China containing lead and containing counterfeit trademarks.

LM Import-Export, Inc., Lam’s Investment Corp., and LK Toys Corp., Hung Lam and Isabella Kit Yeung plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to traffic and smuggle toys containing hazardous substances such as lead, and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 371 and 2320, respectively. Co-defendant Yeung plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of submitting a false country of origin label, in violation of 19 U.S.C. Sec. 1304(a). The information, or charging document filed in court, against all defendants, as well as the plea agreements for each defendant can be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida. (If you have trouble getting these documents, email me and I’d be happy to share them with you).

The facts underlying the charges, as stated in court documents, are that from April, 2000, until May 2011, a span of 11 years, the corporate defendants conspired to sell children’s products imported from China in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act 15 U.S.C. Sec. 2068, and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1263. Some of the toys contained lead, while others presented various hazards such as choking, aspiration or ingestion. The products were imported using false statements on Customs declaration forms and with false country of origin labeling.

Hung Lam was sentenced to 22 months incarceration, 3 years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine. The corporations were sentenced to 5 years of probation. Yeung was sentenced to 1 year probation and a $1,000 fine. An order was entered mandating the forfeiture to the government of $862,500 and all products imported by the defendants that were seized by the government. The press release from the Consumer Products Safety Commission and Department of Justice discussing the case can be found here and here respectively.

This case is extremely important for importers to be familiar with and understand that:

  1. It is vital for importers to retain counsel to assist with pre-compliance before you import.
  2. When you receive any violation notice from the federal government, retain counsel immediately and be sure to address all violations with remedial action and enhanced compliance procedures in an attempt to keep administrative penalties or forfeiture cases from turning into potential criminal matters.
  3. Resolving a civil action through a consent decree with the government does not absolve you of criminal liability.
  4. Once contacted by government officials, retain counsel immediately. Any evidence you provide or any statements you make will be used against you in court.
  5. Repeated misconduct and federal regulatory law violations over a period of years will often result in criminal prosecution of both companies and their individual employees, resulting in federal prison sentences and substantial fines and forfeitures.