US customs updates information sharing procedures

Federal Register tomeUS customs officers will soon be able to share more information with trademark holders when they encounter suspected counterfeit shipments.

Under a new final rule published in the Federal Register on September 18, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be able to communicate certain information with brand owners prior to seizure - including detailed information on supply chain routes for example - without violating the Trade Secrets Act.

The rule finalises an interim regulation which went into effect in 2012 and included a revision of the definition of 'counterfeit trademark' - to reduce the likelihood that officers could inadvertently detain goods that are genuine, albeit repaired or refurbished goods, or goods bearing genuine marks that are unrestricted parallel imports. It also implemented a 30-day detention period for goods suspected of bearing counterfeit marks.

The final rule requires the CBP to release limited importation information to the trademark owner no later than the time of issuance of the detention notice to the importer, rather than within 30 business days from the date of detention as before.

The new regulation allows the CBP to inform trademark owners of serial numbers, dates of manufacture, lot codes, batch numbers, universal product codes or other identifying marks appearing on the merchandise or its packaging, as well as the name and address of the manufacturer, shipper, exporter or importer.

The changes "enhance information-sharing procedures by requiring CBP to release to the importer an un-redacted sample or image of the suspect merchandise or its retail packaging any time after presentation of the suspect goods for examination," says the Federal Register notice.

"This change is to reflect that an importer may not have complete information about the marks appearing on imported goods, and release of such un-redacted information will assist the importer in providing CBP with a meaningful response to a detention notice," it adds.

The new regulations come into effect from October 19, 2015.

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