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Seizures

Best PracticesCBDChina Trade WarCustoms ExpertImportImport AlertInternational LawInternational TradeU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

New FTC Warning Letters Issued to Companies Selling CBD Products

posted by Jennifer Diaz September 24, 2019 1 Comment

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The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a press release confirming is sent three warning letters to companies that sell oils, tinctures, capsules, “gummies,” and creams containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. While the warning letters are not made publicly available, the FTC advised the warning letters were sent because the companies were advertising their CBD products could treat or cure serious diseases and health conditions, in violation of both the FTC Act (as well as U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) laws and regulations.

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Best PracticesCustoms BrokerEventsImportImport AlertInternational LawInternational TradePenaltySeizuresTobaccoU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Drug Paraphernalia, Priority Trade Initiatives, & Forced Labor

posted by Jennifer Diaz November 13, 2018 0 comments

At seminar

You don’t want to miss this one!

What: Drug Paraphernalia, Priority Trade Initiatives, & Forced Labor – An Update on CBP Enforcement

When: November 27th, 2018, 12:00PM-1:00PM EST

RSVP TODAY!

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CounterfeitsCustoms BrokerImportInternational LawInternational TradeIPR, Trademarks and LogosSeizuresU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

34,143 IPR Seizures in 2017, Sets Record!

posted by Jennifer Diaz June 25, 2018 2 Comments

IPRThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is tasked with the monitoring of and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR). In DHS’s annual report, it discusses over 11 million containers arriving at seaports, 10 million transported on land by trucks, 3 million transported by train, and another quarter billion express packages transported by mail and plane. This report serves delves the work done by DHS.

The DHS’ annual report investigates products that infringe US trademarks and copyrights or are subject to exclusion orders issued by the US International Trade Commission as it threatens the health and safety of American consumers and poses risks to our national interests.
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Best PracticesCounterfeitsImportIPR, Trademarks and LogosSeizuresU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

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

posted by Jennifer Diaz December 6, 2016 3 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

Best PracticesCounterfeitsImportSeizuresU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

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

Best PracticesCounterfeitsImportInvestigationIPR, Trademarks and LogosSeizuresU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

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.

 

Best PracticesEventsImportIPR, Trademarks and LogosSeizuresSpeakingU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Do You Know the Top 10 Tips When Importing?

posted by Jennifer Diaz June 18, 2013 0 comments

Do you know the top 10 tips when importing to ensure compliance?  If not, here’s why you should attend my Compliance Online webinar on June 27, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., EST. 

If you import merchandise into the U.S., you are the responsible party and must be aware your requirements and potential liability.  In this presentation, we will discuss how to comply with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) vast laws and regulations. By the end of the webinar you will know and understand the importance of:

  • Tariff classification;
  • Customs valuation;
  • Country of origin marking;
  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection and CBP Enforcement; and
  • Free Trade Agreements (FTA)  you should be taking advantage of.

You will also learn basic customs concepts and terms like:

  • CBP Form 3461 & CBP 7501;
  • Protests;
  • Seizure cases;
  • Liquidated damage claims, Penalties/Fines;
  • Prior disclosure; and
  • FP&F Petition Process.

Learn key best practices and hear real life case studies. Learn what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do, and what the consequences are for non compliance.

To register for this webinar on June 27, 2013 at 10:00 EST, click here.

Currency SeizureSeizuresU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Don’t Let Your Currency be Seized When Traveling Internationally – TOP TIPS

posted by Jennifer Diaz November 20, 2012 3 Comments

The holidays are approaching… Do you intend to carry “monetary instruments” when traveling internationally?

Read on, these TOP 5 Tips when carrying “monetary instruments” above $10,000 can save you a U.S. Customs Seizure Case.

Here are your top tips to assure you get it right, and you’re not screaming “Help – U.S. Customs Took my Money at the Airport”.

1. If you intend to carry over $10,000 in monetary instruments, including travelers checks and U.S. or foreign money, you MUST fill out the required form, FINCEN Form 105.  Note, it is PERFECTLY acceptable to travel with currency, you JUST have to report it. Don’t be scared to do so.

2. Review U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “Currency Reporting” flyer.  Make sure you memorize what “monetary instruments” consist of:

  • U.S. or foreign coins and currency;
  • Travelers checks (in any form);
  • Negotiable Instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders – in a transferable form);
  • Incomplete instruments (checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are signed with a payees name omitted;
  • Securities or stock in bearer form (in a transferable form)

3. Make sure you can explain the legitimate source of the money.

4. Make sure you can explain the legitimate intended use of the money.

5. Don’t divide currency for the purpose of evading reporting requirements.

Check out CBP’s recent seizures of currency and DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!:

 

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 Jennifer Diaz 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.