September 2009

Trademark Infringement

How often do you think U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have heard an importer say, “. . . but I didn’t tell the manufacturer to put that trademark on there”? Ignorance may be bliss, but CBP will not accept that excuse as an acceptable reason to allow counterfeit merchandise to enter into the United States, or even allow it to move in-transit through the United States. This, however, is the often heard explanation when an importer does not do its due diligence.

There are a few steps every importer should take prior to doing business with a new manufacturer or importing into the United States a new product.

A reputable manufacturer should, and ultimately will, provide a sample. Inspect the sample thoroughly. If it is an electronic item, you may want to go as far as taking it apart to make sure that the inner workings do not contain any trademarks or logos or copyrights which either you did not request or the manufacturer is not licensed to produce. If your sample is different than the merchandise shipped, then you can at least say to CBP, “This is not what I ordered. I have a sample of what I was supposed to receive,” and the correspondence with the manufacturer to support your claim. Even if you do not  get your merchandise back from CBP, it is important to understand that you may use your due diligence as a mitigating factor if and when you are fined […]

Customs Wants to Know What’s in Your Laptop

Whenever you cross the border of the United States, you are subject to a border search. Borders include international airports and seaports, in addition to land crossings with Mexico and Canada.  U.S. Customs has authority to search persons and things that cross the border  – your car, your private yacht, your private jet, your luggage, and yes, even your mobile phone, laptop, and iPod.     In an August 27, 2009 press release, United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano set forth some guidelines to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)and to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about searching electronic media devices.

The new guidelines are considered vital to DHS’s mission in “detecting information that poses a serious harm to the United States, including terrorist plans… or possession of child pornography and trademark or copyright infringement.”  Interestingly, the press release stated: “Between October 1, 2008 and August 11, 2009, CBP encountered more than 221 million travelers at U.S. ports of entry.  Approximately 1,000 laptop searches were performed in these instances – of those, just 46 were in-depth.”  The DHS website provides examples of when the searches of electronic media devices resulted in arrests of individuals transporting the devices.

Civil libertarians have long been concerned about U.S. Customs’ authority to search electronic media, considering it a possible invasion of privacy.  As one commentor publicly said to Secretary Napolitano “You and your government are paranoid!”  Sen. Feingold (D-WI) stated during 2008 Congressional hearings on this issue: “When the Government looks through the contents of your laptop, is that just like […]

Shipping HAZMAT? Do It Right or Pay the Price

If your company ships hazardous materials (a/k/a “HAZMAT”), a single misstep could cause your business to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.

In fact, every day HAZMAT shippers are slapped with penalties issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)–and the penalty amounts sometimes reach seven figures or more.  

If you think “well, I made only one mistake–I won’t get caught,” or if you think you can talk yourself out of getting a penalty like you do a speeding ticket, think again.  When the FAA investigates an incident and issues a penalty, you can bet what you think is just one violation will quickly become multiple violations. 

FAA regulations require proper marking, printing, labeling, describing, packing, and classifying HAZMAT. Also, there is another set of regulations for the training of employees and recordkeeping of shipments.  Understanding the FAA’s policies and procedures in HAZMAT penalty cases is a necessary first step to mitigating what can be exorbitant penalties.

The FAA issues the penalties for violations of the Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) found at 49 CFR Parts 171 to 185 pursuant to the Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Law, 49 U.S.C. Sections 5101 to 5127.  The FAA penalties have increased from $10,000 to now $50,000 for each violation of the HMR that occurred after August 10, 2005.  It is common for the FAA to issue a penalty for hundreds of thousands of dollars against a company for illegally shipping, or even attempting to ship, a HAZMAT on an aircraft, including […]

OWIT – South Florida to Host Ambassador Juan Miguel Gutierrez-Tinoco

diaz_j3 (1)On September 9, 2009, the South Florida chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) will host Ambassador Juan Miguel Gutierrez Tinoco, the Consul General of Mexico. This month, OWIT-South Florida’s focus is Mexico at our monthly luncheon. The luncheon will take place at the Sofitel Hotel from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. I hope you make it!  Register here.

Did you know Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the United States? Mexico’s top import into South Florida is gold, up by 184.17% according to World City’s 2009 Miami Trade Numbers.

Save the Date!

Please save November 12, 2009, for our annual International Business Women of the Year (IBWOY) awards luncheon, honoring exemplary women in the South Florida international trade community.  While the details are being fine tuned, I can say that we are doing something different this year. Typically, we raise money for a scholarship for a university student.  However, this year, so many of us have been touched by cancer.  We recently lost Bunny Schreiber, a beacon in the South Florida trade community, and one of our own Board members is currently fighting cancer. Therefore, this year we would like to raise money for breast cancer awareness and will donate proceeds of our silent auction to the Susan G. Komen foundation. If you have any items you’d like to include in the auction, or are interested in sponsorship, please contact me.

I have to say, I personally have truly enjoyed being a Board […]

By |2015-11-30T19:33:47-05:00September 1, 2009|Import, OWIT|0 Comments
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