To say once was that if you build a better mouse trap, the world will hit a path to your door. Today, if you build a better mouse trap, your contest can pave your way to your customer doors. So how can customers identify your better mouse trap? Of course, a patent can offer protection that may be a trademark. But what can you do if you are worried that your competitors will be outside the United States?
How will you keep track of all your competitors? What happens if someone gets mice like yours in the country and sells them? What happens if a foreign competitor notices your mouse trap the same as yours and the buyers think they are buying your product? How much does it cost to stick to all this information? Is there any company that can be employed to monitor the problem for you?
The solution to this serious problem is actually much less complicated and expensive than you would expect. Due to its unique status for import and export monitoring, the US Customs Authority can assist. The procedure is to register your trademark, trade name, copyright or patent information at the customs office. Because each one is different, all procedures and limitations will be reviewed.
Trademarks and trade names
If the US Patent and Trademark Office has registered a trademark, a status copy of the registration certificate and five copies may be registered with the Customs Office for Intellectual Property Rights. The address will be displayed in the regulations published by 19 CFR §§133.1 and following. While no specific application form is provided, the Regulation specifies the information that must be included. The rules require that 8 x 10 1/2 inch paper is used for the application. The current cost is $ 190 per item category based on the classes listed on the certificate. The registration will remain in force at the same time as 20 years of trademark registration period and may be renewed. The rules also set rules for the change of ownership of a registered trademark.
There is no federal trade name registration without trademark registration, so there is no certificate that can be issued for trade names. A trade name or trade style used for at least six months may be registered to identify a manufacturer or trader. Trademarks differ from trademarks, although the same brand or symbol may be used for both purposes. If a symbol is also used as a trademark, it can not be registered with Customs as a trade name regardless of whether the trademark has been registered with the Patent and Trademark Office. In other words, trademark protection is assumed to be satisfactory.
Since there is no central national register for trade name registration, the proposed trade name is published in the Federal Register after an application was registered. Interested can oppose the recording, but it is obviously necessary to review the federal register.
Upon consideration of objections, the Customs Office publishes a notice of final approval or misunderstanding in the federal register and customs bulletin. This is very important because a Louisiana company that has a state trade name registration with the State Secretary in Louisiana may lose the right to object to registration from another state if the description of the products associated with the trade names is the same. Then, if the Louisiana company tries to import a product with its trade name to any country, including Louisiana, it can be prevented from doing so because a company from another state has registered its trade name with the customs office. Obviously, this could be a contest for filing with the customs and the outcome in such a case would likely be the exclusion of the goods or posting of a band by the Louisiana company followed by disputes.
Protection of trademarks and trade names
Regulations state that items that have a trademark copy or simulation of a registered trademark or trade name are to be denied entry and may be subject to confiscation. However, the regulations make a very important difference between simulation marks that are similar to a recorded brand that it is likely that the public will likely associate the copy or simulation mark with the recorded brand or name and a trademark counterfeit brand that can not be distinguished from a registered trademark.
When gray goods go into the country, the owner of the recorded trademark is notified and can resort to litigation. How does the customs agency know what is gray goods? A lot of initial information comes from the application to record the brand or trade name. Therefore, it is crucial in the application phase to determine the current or future potential for gray commodities and to structure agreements so that the exclusion of gray commodities does not render the protection worthless.