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Roland Tong: Customs officers are keeping a vigilant lookout

It's the Law

Posted: April 8, 2010 10:00 p.m.
Updated: April 9, 2010 4:55 a.m.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforces intellectual property rights of rights holders at the border. At 327 ports of entry, Customs inspectors screen and inspect incoming imports for violations of intellectual property rights.

When screening imports, agents use a database containing recorded trademark and copyright registrations. The recordation database includes information regarding all recorded marks, including images of these marks.

Customs officers monitor imports to prevent the importation of goods bearing infringing marks, and can access the recordation database at each of the ports of entry.

Released in October 2005, the Intellectual Property Rights e-Recordation system allows right holders to electronically file intellectual property rights recordation applications, thus significantly reducing the amount of time normally required to process paper applications.

Some additional benefits of the new system include:

* Elimination of paper applications and supporting documents. 

* Copies of the certificate issued by the registering agency (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the Copyright Office) are retained by the right holder, not submitted to Customs and Border Protection.

* Payment by credit card (preferred), check or money order. 

* Ability to upload images of the protected work or trademark, thus obviating the need to send samples to Customs.

* Reduced time from filing of the application to enforcement by field personnel.

Parties who register their marks on the Principal Register may record these marks with Customs to assist the department in its efforts to prevent the importation of goods that infringe registered marks.

Information about how to obtain a recordation, and about CBP's Intellectual Property Rights border enforcement program, is available at the Customs' Web site,

Roland Tong is an intellectual property law partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP. He can be reached by at  or (213) 680-5093. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. It's The Law" appears Fridays and rotates between members of the Santa Clarita Valley Bar Association. Nothing contained herein shall be or is intended to be construed as providing legal advice.


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