Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Few Things

I know things have really slowed down here when my family complains that I am not posting often enough. I have not done a completely off-topic post in a while. And, the on-topic world has been personally fairly busy of late while at the same time not particularly full of interesting developments. So, here are a couple updates culled from the recent news. None involve animal smuggling.

The Justice Department has announced a new task force on intellectual property enforcement. In many ways, I think this is great. Intellectual property really is the engine that drives vast swaths of our economy. But, I admit to feeling a little queasy every time I hear about increased IPR enforcement involving imports. The reason is that I know that many well-intentioned small business people inadvertently get caught up buying counterfeit merchandise and end up losing money and merchandise as a result. I am not making excuses for them, I just wonder whether they have a voice with the government. More worrisome, I think, is that legitimate importers of grey-market goods are often unable to prove that their goods are not counterfeit. This is largely because they were not purchased from the authorized producer or reseller and those people have no interest in facilitating parallel imports. It becomes tough for the importer to prove a negative and the rights holder can almost always identify counterfeits. Its a tough spot for both sides because the rights holder must keep tight controls over information about its security measures.

According to press reports, Japan has proposed to the WTO that 53 energy-efficient products be given duty-free status. It is Document 10-0862, which you can find here. Seems like a good use of tariffs to promote environmental policy. Of course, that often butts up against industrial policy.

The Bureau of Industry and Security has published new guidance for freight forwarders in routed transactions.

The CIT just made public a decision on the classification of motocross apparel. It is a very interesting case that I will summarize as soon as possible. And, speaking of the Court of International Trade, I will be in Washington on Thursday and Friday for the Georgetown International Trade Update. I am on the Bench and Bar panel on Thursday afternoon. If you are there, please say hello to me. Softball questions are also welcome.

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