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E-Commerce Strategic PlanCustoms and Border Protection has developed an e-commerce strategy in a bid to tackle the increase in online shopping and growth of illicit and counterfeit goods shipped as small packages.

The strategy, which notes that CBP must “adapt” to the new e-commerce landscape, seeks to address emerging threats posed by the global change in commerce habits and ensure CBP has the means to enforce violations.

Under the new e-commerce strategy, CBP will, among a number of measures, look to enhance data collection and intelligence, develop and utilise state-of-the-art techniques and technologies, review its existing legal and regulatory authorities, seek to strengthen partnerships with the private sector, facilitate international trade standards for e-commerce, and educate the American public of the risks, both as consumers and as importers, associated with non-compliant products.

The crackdown and new emphasis for the CBP reflects the shift from traditional methods of importing via large, containerised shipments to small, low-value packages as direct-to-consumer business becomes more common. This has presented new inspection and data challenges for CBP, especially as the volume of these small packages has increased.

In addition, transnational criminal organisations are increasingly shipping illicit goods to the US via small packages on the belief there is a lower risk of interdiction and less severe enforcement consequences if caught. CBP said this illicit activity poses a risk to the health and safety of Americans and compromises US economic security.

The new e-commerce strategy also follows a report last month by the Government Accountability Office, which reviewed the enforcement efforts by CBP and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in light of the increase in online shopping and sale of counterfeit goods. The report found that CBP had conducted a limited evaluation of its efforts, suggesting its activities were not the most efficient or effective, and recommended it evaluate its activities to enhance intellectual property enforcement.

The new strategy has a strong focus on data, which is one of the current limitations around enforcement of small packages. For instance, according to the strategy document, CBP will strengthen partnerships with stakeholders and encourage information sharing, proposing benefits for those parties who share advance electronic data and other information and will penalise those who are not compliant in this area.

The agency will also increase its operational efficiency and effectiveness by using data analytics, data mining, and an array of powerful analytical tools. In addition, CBP will expand its existing advance electronic data pilot in the international mail environment to include additional foreign postal operators.

Potential technology options include mobile applications and an e-commerce resource library, the strategy notes. CBP will also develop a portal that contains a database on importers that CBP has vetted and deemed “trusted”.

Source: USCBP and Securing Industry, online article 2018.03.28

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USCP Counterfeit stuffThousands of counterfeit designer handbags have been uncovered by federal officers in a shipping container at Miami’s seaport.

Customs and Border Protection officials say a recent review confirmed there were 1,200 fake Gucci handbags and 1,195 Louis Vuitton handbags in the container. The bags were initially seized Aug. 19 in a shipment from China.

Authorities say the handbags are worth more than $1 million if sold as legitimate.

Investigators began examining cartons containing the handbags after noting that they were not declared on any import documents. The shipment included 825 other cartons of clothes, shoes and similar apparel.

Last year CBP seized more than 23,000 counterfeit items nationally worth about $1.2 billion.

stock-photo-intellectual-property-and-related-words-in-word-collage-100324247Smart, Biggar, and Fetherstonhaugh, a Canadian law firm practising exclusively in intellectual property and technology law, advises that deterring counterfeiters is particularly important to luxury brand owners. For this reason, they should always keep in mind that augmented damage awards may be available when seeking concurrent relief for copyright infringement as well as trademark infringement. Similarly, brand owners in copyright industries should keep this in mind and consideration should be given to seeking both copyright and trademark relief in all counterfeiting and pirating scenarios in Canada. Considering the question from the point of view of luxury brand owners exemplifies the point.

Copyright aims to protect against the unauthorised reproduction of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Logos and designs or patterns used by luxury brands may constitute artistic works in which copyright subsists in Canada. Further, in the case of a counterfeit item, such works are clearly reproduced without the consent of the copyright holder.

Smart & Biggar states that even though trademark and copyright law each protect different interests, they are not mutually exclusive and in many cases the sale and distribution of a counterfeit product or a pirated copyright work may constitute both trademark and copyright infringement. In such circumstances, they recommend brand owners to be mindful of the possibility of claiming both trademark infringement and copyright infringement not only to maximise their damages but, ultimately, to have an increased deterrent effect on counterfeiters [in Canada]. Source: Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh