The presence of counterfeit products on the market has incredibly negative effects on both a company’s goodwill and reputation and their ability to conduct legitimate business. The attorneys of Rothwell Figg’s Customs Trademark and Copyright Recordations and Enforcement team have extensive, and highly effective, skills and experience in this field. When we find potentially counterfeit goods that have been seized, our lawyers and legal staff use best practices to streamline and automate our work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to help companies defend the integrity of their products, while minimizing costs and delays.
For our clients, we provide three distinct, and extraordinarily important benefits. First, using the tools available from Customs, we help minimize the amount of counterfeit products entering the country. Second, we centralize counter-counterfeiting efforts, providing efficiency and the ability to effectively manage this ongoing undertaking. Finally, we manage Customs requests to verify or reject goods, using an assortment of robust, proven time- and cost-sensitive approaches. When circumstances demand a more bespoke methodology, we also work hand-in-hand with private investigators who can find efficient ways to follow up on customs information that the customs services cannot.
Customs work is a specialized, and unique, area of the law in that it requires both a high level of administrative efficiency as well as knowledge of the applicable government agencies and regulations. Customs enforcement agents are busy and we are serious about working in partnership with them and recognizing their deadlines and workflows. One of the main issues clients can face is effective management of the sheer number of inquiries relating to potentially infringing products. Despite the Customs recordations, clients are still required to analyze each item that is seized and provide their input.
In those cases, it is essential to develop a way to manage this volume and sort out legitimate issues from those suspected goods which Customs agents may have flagged for further inquiry, or cases which seem to be de minimus consumer uses which do not fall within a particular company’s enforcement program.
In some instances, Customs work can lead to very significant counterfeiting operations, such as one in which Customs brought to light counterfeit product boxes and packaging. This allowed us to track down the source of a counterfeiting operation and a large seizure order for not only the packaging but the goods themselves. This eventually led to a civil lawsuit for counterfeiting and infringement.
In another situation, one of our clients was notified about a possible counterfeit item sold at a local retail store. We were able to obtain the product and liaised with the client and other parties to assist in their determination of the item’s authenticity. It is this kind of careful attention to clients’ needs and goals and hands-on work that helps to set our Customs practice apart.
We also seek to provide information and training to Customs agents at ports across the country to keep them apprised of developments of our products’ brands or in some instances, to raise the profile of brands – especially new and emerging brands. This can result in an increase in the number of goods seized and can have a deterrent effect on would-be counterfeiters once they recognize that a company is diligent and that copies are more likely to be interdicted.
We analyze all the data received from Customs to manage a smooth and easy interface with clients, which we believe provides our clients with a unique advantage. Our attorneys understand that working with Customs is different than working with other government professionals in the IP field, such as patent and trademark offices.
Our business-oriented approach understands the complexities of intellectual property protection and offers our clients in-depth Customs counsel for the strong brand protection companies need – and their brands and products deserve.