Abady Law Firm, P.C. – Customs and Import/Export Attorney Blog

Learn the Basics of Customs and International Trade Policy and Procedure

Archive for February, 2012

Import Export Attorney: Sanctions and Embargoes

Sanctions and embargoes can be thought of as political coercive measures.  Examples include the prohibition of doing business with certain countries, governments or individuals.  The reason behind these measures are to compel those countries, governments or individuals to comply with international laws or other obligations in order to maintain national-security and safety objectives.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.

Such examples of countries under the embargo include Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.  Importers must ensure that their shipments are imported or exported before the effective date of the embargo.  The government is not flexible as to allowing any merchandise leave or enter the country ince the effective date has passed.  If any of your merchandise is subject to a sanction or embargo it is best to consult with a professional who can guide you as to your rights with respect to   your product.

Happy Importing 🙂

Import Export Attorney: Intellectual Property and Imports

Enforcing intellectual property (ip) rights has become the hallmark area to which a majority of seizures stem from. It is vital that companies go through the procedures for registering their trademarks, copyrights, etc with Customs. There is a balancing act that must be accounted for, the rights of the owner protecting its exclusive property interest versus any user (whether innocent or not) who is subject to intellectual property infringement. However, if Customs is unaware as to the “marks” (i.e. they are not registered) goods may come in that violate a true owners ip rights. Thereafter it is too late; the damage has bee done, and consumer attitude towards a product becomes compromised.

Once an ip right is registered with Customs, all ports are given notice as to detain merchandise that is believed to be infringing. Customs will then give the ip holder with the opportunity to confirm or deny that a violation has occurred. Further, Customs will allow the potential infringer with the opportunity to remedy the situation by getting permission from the ip holder to import the goods. Absent this permission the violator will be fined and the merchandise subject to forfeiture actions. Further, the ip holder will know the identity of the violator who may sue them individually or keep tabs on their importing activity.

It is recommended that you be careful as to any product you import. Failure to take precautions will leave the importer subject to liability and severely tarnish your business.

Happy Importing 🙂

Import Export Attorney: Made in the good old USA

There are often substantial differences depending on the country regarding the determination as to the country of origin. A product that is produced for export in the United States may not be eligible for sale in the United States.

It is wonderful to see and hear of companies keeping production within the United States and bring jobs to Americans as opposed to having production done overseas. All the more so I give these companies credit because to use the term “Made in USA,” on products requires strict adherence to the laws. Goods that are distributed in the United States are governed by United States law, and the rules instituted by the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).

The FTC does not pre-approve claims for labeling products as “Made in USA”. In order for a a product to be called “Made in USA,” the product must be “all or virtually all” made in the U.S.

What does “all or virtually all” mean?

The FTC states that “All or virtually all” means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. That is, the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.

Therefore, be sure that you have a reasonable basis for complying with the “Made in USA” requirements and have all documentation necessary in case you are questioned.

Happy Importing 🙂