CBP is currently taking volunteers for a brand new Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) voluntary pre-compliance program.  The Journal of Commerce reported on the new pilot program here.

Do you agree with my comments?

CBP is asking for 9 volunteer filers to submit IPR Authenticating data via email into the Document Image System (DIS). Approved IPR authentication data may be submitted as documents via a PDF attachment to an email. IPR Authenticating data may be sent by shipment and is open in all shipping modalities. Participants will  include those who have previously experienced negative IPR violating exams. A great way to get back on CBP’s good side!

What documents is CBP looking for in advance of importation?

  • Licensee Agreements
  • Service Agreements
  • Maintenance Agreements
  • Packing Lists
  • Non-commercial invoices
  • Serial Numbers
  • Bar Codes
  • Photos of product, packaging, container seals,

CBP has already begun accepting volunteers – you have a limited time left to submit your company name.

Why volunteer?

CBP anticipates that this process will improve IPR targeting efficiencies, reduce the rate of negative IPR exams, facilitate authorized trade and increase CBP port productivity. Within one year’s time, CBP will conduct an evaluation of Advance Information on negative exam rate (and I was informed they will actually SHARE this data with participants! – you can finally let upper management know your compliance role has a real impact on your supply chain and saves the company time and money).

Importance of Pre-Compliance!

I created an extremely similar program for my clients years ago, where, through our pre-compliance plan, EVERY shipment is checked by me prior to importation (the boxes, product itself) and thereafter proactively reported to the CBP port of entry (we provide data to CBP on the IPR licenses in place, product information including images). We have noticed a dramatic difference in CBP intensive exams – as CBP has all information about the product in advance of importation. It has worked wonderfully for my clients.

When I discussed the new pilot program with CBP, the real advantage is officially knowing the your “targeting score” is lowered for IPR purposes – which is why this program made perfect sense to me to be in conjunction with CTPAT – where your security targeting score is lowered as a result of proactively advising CBP, both in writing, and in person, of your supply chain security practices. CBP may integrate the IPR pre-compliance program with CTPAT in the future, it is being discussed now.

CBP’s new pilot program should have you re-visiting my favorite question – what’s my Pre-Compliance approach?  Every company should have their own specialized pre-compliance program. If you are noticing more and more CBP exams on your importations, a slower supply chain then you would like, now’s the time to make changes. If you have a brand, spend money marketing your brand, then why not protect your brand?  We’ve previously discussed the necessity of “RECORDING” your trademark or copyright with Customs – if you haven’t made the time to look into this, now is the time!  Might as well have CBP help you protect your brand, especially when CBP provides you with the opportunity to train CBP on counterfeits so they can help you – what more can you ask for?