WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Customs and Border Protection may show examples of suspected counterfeit goods to intellectual property rights holders to determine if the goods are indeed counterfeit, according to new rules adopted by the agency.
Until now, the USCBP was prohibited by the Trade Secrets Act from showing the owners of copy rights and trademarks suspected counterfeits unless the agency first formally seized the goods.
The act bars government officials from disclosing any information received in the course of official duties when it might reveal "protected information," such as manufacturing processes, confidential statistical data, or contract details that could aid a competitor.
The USCBP said that with the technical nature of some imported goods and the sophistication of counterfeiters it was increasingly difficult for the agency to determine a counterfeit without asking the rights holder.
The rules make clear that the USCBP may only disclose what is necessary to determine the legitimacy of the articles. The USCBP will show the rights holder either photographs or a sample of the goods and, or, the retail packaging in the condition as presented to the USCBP for examination, and alphanumeric codes appearing on the goods.
Importers of suspected goods will be notified within 5 days that the USCBP is detaining the goods for further inspection and given 7 days to demonstrate the legitimacy of the trademark on the goods before the agency contacts rights holders for verification.
The rules allow the agency to detain suspected goods for 30 days and require a determination of their legitimacy within that time.
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