U.S. Customs IP Seizures at Record Highs


The U.S. government has substantially increased its focus on goods imported into the United States that infringe copyrighted works and trademarks. This article discusses these recent efforts and provides practical advice to avoid — or cope with — a seizure by U.S. authorities.

United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, monitors U.S. ports and other entry points and seizes goods bearing or containing counterfeit copyrighted works and/or trademarks. United States copyright law protects original works of authorship. In the United States, copyright law protects a variety of works, including literary works such as books and software; musical works, including sound recordings; dance routines; paintings, sculptures, and other visual arts; and motion pictures and video games. U.S. trademark law protects symbols and words used by businesses to identify their products and services and distinguish them from those of their competitors and accordingly represent the goodwill and reputation of a company’s goods and services. To use any third-party work protected by copyright or trademark law, a manufacturer, supplier, distributor, and/or importer (here, collectively the “manufacturer”) generally must have a license from the rights-owner.

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