U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) examines cargo at more than 300 ports of entry into the US, including seaports, airports, and land border crossings, and seizes goods that appear to infringe registered trademarks and copyrights on record. Typically, CBP works with brand owners to protect these intellectual property rights. However, the Trade Secrets Act has presented challenges to brand owners attempting to enforce these trademarks and copyrights against counterfeiters. Prior to the new rule, brand owners were unable to gain access to serial number or other universal product code information from goods seized by the CBP. This is because such information could potentially reveal the trade secrets (e.g. sourcing and shipping information) of sellers of genuine gray market goods.
To help brand owners better identify counterfeit goods, CBP adopted a new interim rule permitting CBP to disclose to brand owners universal product information appearing on merchandise or retail packaging, including serial numbers, universal product codes, stock keeping unit numbers, etc. However, before such information is shared, an importer is provided notice and an opportunity to demonstrate that the seized merchandise is authentic.