February 2012

How I Helped Release $2.5 Million Stuck in Customs

Before beginning a career in international trade, I did not ever stop to think that the t-shirt I was wearing or dishes I was using were likely made elsewhere, and went through a long complicated logistics supply chain in order to reach my local store. Little did I know that when anything goes wrong in that complicated supply chain, it would be my job to help. Recently, a client had over 2.5 million dollars worth of electronic merchandise on hold by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) for alleged intellectual property rights violations. In plain English, Customs was under the impression my client was trying to import goods with trademarks or logos they did not have the authorization to import.

For this client, this was a lot of money at stake, and it could have put them out of business if we did not come up with a quick solution. Instead of thinking of the band aid type solution, to solely fix this issue, we came up with a compliance plan for the client to use going forward, that would also help solve the current issue.

The compliance plan involved both a short term and long term solution. In the short term, the goal was to have the 2.5 million dollars worth of merchandise released ASAP. To accomplish this goal, we had to prove to Customs that our client had the appropriate authorization from the relevant trademark holders. (Good time for you to check over your trademark licenses, are they all […]

A Conversation with DHS Secretary Tom Ridge

On January 26, 2012, I attended an exclusive, “off the record dinner for Florida business and community leaders to discuss the growing global national security and economic challenges our country faces today.” The guest speaker was none other than the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.  I was fascinated by what I heard from Secretary Ridge.

I had expected the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the first Secretary from 2003 to 2005 of the then new U.S. Department of Homeland Security to give the usual law enforcement speech about  securing U.S. borders and ports, counter-terrorism, deporting illegal immigrants, etc.  None of those ideas were discussed directly. Instead, the entire discussion initiated by Secretary Ridge was about promoting international trade as a way of ensuring economic security, and through our economic security, we maintain our leadership in the world.  Even after I peppered him with questions, he did not waiver.  Such a transformation was both surprising and impressive considering the current “5 Core Missions” of DHS.

The delightful dinner was sponsored by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. The USGLC is a broad-based, bipartisan coalition of more than 400 businesses, non-profits, faith-based, and community leaders led by Honorary Chair Colin Powell.  I am a member of the USGLC’s Florida Advisory Committee.

The new wisdom from Secretary Ridge should be seriously considered by our political leaders.  But, that’s just the view of one customs and international trade attorney.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Seized My Goods – Oh No!


U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) seizes merchandise EVERY day (and there is a LOT you can do to get your merchandise back!).  Check out the latest 2011 stats on intellectual property rights enforcement and seizure statistics.

What some don’t know is the merchandise does NOT even have to be destined for the U.S. for CBP to seize it.  Yes, it’s true.  CBP detains and physically inspects cargo daily. CBP is supposed to issue timely detention notices and the detention notices are supposed to include the specific reason for the detention, anticipated length of the detention; nature of the tests or inquiries to be conducted; and nature of any information which, if supplied to U.S. Customs may accelerate the disposition of the detention.  I wish I had a dollar for every importer that told me they never received one, or where the rationale for detention was blank, or said IPR (intellectual property rights)!

I am often retained by client’s just to get CBP on the phone to find out WHY the goods are detained.  As with everything in life, it’s who you know, and who will pick up your phone call.  Wish this process was different, but… typically, it isn’t.

Bottom line, if you hire someone to assist you with this process, ensure they know the internal procedures of CBP, as […]


What is the Black List?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authority from Congress to place an importer, manufacturer, shipper, grower, geographic area, or country on a “detention without physical examination” (DWPE) list (aka the FDA’s black list). To check if a company you are doing business with is on such a list, check FDA’s Import Alert page, you can search by country, company, etc. If your company is on this list, any merchandise you import may be detained as soon as it is offered for entry into the United States. You will have to prove to the FDA that the merchandise should be allowed to enter the U.S., otherwise, it will be refused entry and must be exported or destroyed within 90 days. The company/country, etc. will remain on this black list, until information is presented to the FDA that proves the merchandise is no longer violative.

How to Get Off the Black List
FDA’s Regulatory Procedures Manual provides guidance to those who wish to get off the black list. The specific method to use to get off the black list is directly related to why you were placed on the black list in the first place. For example, if a food product was placed on the automatic detention list because it was deemed “adulterated” or “misbranded” by the FDA, a minimum of five consecutive non-violative commercial shipments must enter the U.S., and at least one […]


If you import, you need to!

On behalf of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT-South Florida), I am hosting an informal round table where members OWIT will have the opportunity to get to know one another and learn all about compliance with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)!

Yes, men are welcome!

This session is especially important for importers and brokers and those in involved in international trade.

Attendees will receive a special “cheat sheet” providing great resources to utilize when importing, including the top 10 compliance tips.

Space is limited to OWIT members! Become a member of OWIT here (it is only $100 for a YEAR of benefits including these FREE IBR’s), and assure your spot by sending in your RSVP today!

Please email Jennifer Diaz with any questions!


Go to Top