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CBP, Traders Struggling to Find Way to Indicate IPR Compliance of Imports

Monday, August 26, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Customs and industry representatives indicated recently that they are having difficulty coming up with a way to ensure that imported goods aren’t unnecessarily held up at the border due to concerns about intellectual property rights infringement. A working group within U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Commercial Operations Advisory Committee is examining this issue but a solution appears to be far off.

The Intellectual Property Rights Working Group within COAC’s Trade Enforcement and Revenue Collection Subcommittee has been investigating the feasibility of using the Global Shipment Identification Number as an indicator of IPR compliance. The GSIN is used to identify a grouping of logistics units that comprise a shipment from one consignor to one consignee. While there is broad approval of the use of this sort of identifier as a “green light” signaling IPR compliance, the issue of how to make it work is more challenging. There has been some pushback from traders due to concerns about having to communicate between the brand owner and the importer for every shipment, the cost involved and the additional time needed for verification procedures, particularly in the air environment.

CBP, too, is unsure of how best to proceed. Officials told a recent COAC meeting that the agency likes getting advance information to evaluate cargo sooner in the shipment process but understands there are particular challenges with obtaining such information concerning IPR compliance. CBP also wants to be able to determine if a product is legitimate or counterfeit without opening a container and imposing an undue hardship on the importer, but there appear to be no methods for doing so in use anywhere in the world.

Realizing that this effort might have to be shelved until these challenges are worked out, CBP is considering a pilot program to test solutions and will be working to identify potential participants as well as what the benefits of participation might be.

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