Legislative Watch: Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2013


A proposed U.S. Senate Bill has the potential to change the way in which intellectual property infringement is reported and enforced. U.S. Senate Bill 662 ("S. 662"), the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2013, has recently been the subject of lobbying efforts by the Chamber of Commerce and a number of businesses and trade groups eager for more stringent intellectual property protections. Introduced to the U.S. Senate on March 22, 2013, it has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance, which held a hearing on the bill in May but has not yet taken further action. The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a related bill, H.R. 3004, the Reducing Waste and Increasing Efficiency in Trade Act, which was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means in August 2013. Parties interested in moving S. 662 forward have written a letter to the bill's co-sponsors, U.S. Senators Max Baucus of Montana and Orrin Hatch of Utah, urging Senate finance leaders to send the bill to the Senate floor this year for a vote.

S. 662 reauthorizes existing trade facilitation and enforcement functions, and adds new provisions designed to enhance cooperation on intellectual property protection between and among federal agencies, the private sector, and the international business community. Notably, the bill adds a provision amending the Tariff Act of 1930 that empowers the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency ("Commissioner") to provide copyright and trademark owners with information concerning infringements of their intellectual property rights. The provision gives the Commissioner the unprecedented ability to share actual samples and unredacted images of counterfeit goods, including packaging and label information, with copyright and trademark owners.

Another provision of S. 662 requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and execute an educational campaign for travelers entering or leaving the United States about the legal, economic, and public health and safety implications of acquiring merchandise that infringes intellectual property rights. The bill also suggests that the Commissioner work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to develop a system that allows for simultaneous recordation of trademarks and copyrights with both the U.S. Customs and the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. The authors of the letter in support of S. 662 acknowledge that the bill contains controversial measures regarding antidumping and countervailing duty enforcement, but urge the Senate Finance Committee to nevertheless work to move the bill forward. This is a bill to track in the final months of 2013.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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