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Showing posts from November, 2009

Gibson Guitars Raided Under Lacey Act

Just when I thought there was nothing new to blog about . . . . According to news reports , the Gibson Guitar company has been raided by federal agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service enforcing the Lacey Act amendments. The underlying investigation appears to be focused on imports of rosewood from Madagascar. Under the Lacey Act, importers of many products that are or include plant materials are required complete a declaration identifing the botanical genus and species being imported and to certify that the plant materials were harvested and exported legally. From a corporate compliance stand point, that can be difficult because the direct supplier often will not know the origin or legal status of the wood it purchased. This requires that importers set up a system a tracking the plant material back to it's origin. It is not unlike NAFTA tracing for automotive companies.

Seventh Circuit on ITAR

Sometimes it takes a while for things to actually hit the front of my brain. Such is the case with a June 2009 decision of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals involving an appeal from a criminal conviction under ITAR. In the spirit of "better late than never," here is a summary of U.S. v. Pulungan (No. 08-3000, decided Jun. 15, 2009). Mr. Pulungan tried to export some riflescopes to Indonesia. Believing there to be an arms embargo on Indonesia, he planned conceal the actual destination by transshipping via Saudi Arabia. In reality, the embargo had been lifted in 2005, two years before the attempted export. The scopes, however, are arguably controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations as riflescopes "manufactured to military specifications." Importantly, the law provides that the designation "in regulation" of items as defense articles is not subject to judicial review. As a result, the district court instructed the jury to accept t

Trademark Lawyer FOIA Suit

Here is an interesting footnote to my recent post on Customs and Border Protection's enforcement of intellectual property rights. First, I received an e-mail from some well-respected customs lawyers expressing concerns over Customs' enforcement. The concerns included the timing of infringement decisions and, surprisingly, the fact that Customs' has seized legitimate merchandise bearing registered a trademark on the theory that the registered trademark infringed another registered trademark. That sounds like CBP has stepped into the Patent and Trademark Office's territory. Another interesting point is this post by Seattle Trademark Lawyer Michael Atkins. According to the post, another Seattle trademark lawyer has filed a suit under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the release of all seizure notices relating to counterfeit merchandise. From the post, it is not clear whether the suit goes so far as to seek records of detentions and Notices to Redeliver. Eithe

Off Topic: I hate musicals . . . usually.

It has been a while since I have done a purely off-topic post. For purposes of efficiency and recognizing that most visitors to this blog are looking for specific and useful information, I have avoided the "whatever strikes my fancy" kind of post. Facebook has also given me a more appropriate outlet for those topics. That said, I am moved to write about an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold . I am not a fan of classic American musical theater. I would rather do just about anything than sit through another production of Oklahoma!, Camelot, or Bye Bye Birdie. On the other hand, I have enjoyed more modern musicals including Rent, and Les Miserables. The stage production of Tommy was one of the best musicals I have seen. That is background. The next piece of background is that I read comic books, or "comics" as we in the know say. Specifically, I read a couple series on the DC side of things (although I am dabbling in Marvel's effort to bring Captai

Cruising to Prison

I'm only posting this link because I know there continues to be interest in the policy questions surrounding Customs and Border Protection warrantless searches of electronic storage devices such as laptops and phones. This guy was pulled from the customs line following a cruise. He was already a convicted sex offender. That, no doubt, accounts for the heightened scrutiny. When CBP reviewed the contents of his computer, it found child pornography. As a result, the passenger is now headed to prison for 15 years. The article makes the usual references to civil libertarian concerns and possible statutory changes. The problem with the cases is that the defendants are so unsympathetic. Who in Congress will stand up for the rights of perverts and terrorists to be free from border searches. The problem, of course, goes much deeper because it is not just perverts and pornographers who might be searched. It is everyone and that means privileged medical records, attorney-client com

New IPR Bond

Customs and Border Protection has established a new continuous bond category for intellectual property rights holders to use to secure the release of samples of allegedly infringing merchandise. This will simplify the process of getting samples for analysis for companies that often work with CBP to interdict counterfeits or infringing merchandise. Rights holders can also use a single transaction bond, if they prefer. Here is the notice from Customs, which includes an contact number for more information. While we are talking IPR, Customs has also finally republished the Informed Compliance Publication on CBP Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights . All this activity is probably evidence of Customs' continuing focus on IPR enforcement. Here is a nagging question I have. Does anyone in Customs represent the innocent legitimate importer in enforcement policy. The reason I ask is that I have seen clients with legitimate, non-infringing merchandise suffer very serious expense

No Transfer in License Revocation Case

The Court of International Trade has once again dashed the hopes of Arthur Schick to regain his customhouse broker’s license without re-applying for a license from scratch. I previously reported on Mr. Schick’s plight . He had his license summarily revoked after failing, due to illness, to file his triennial status report as required by 19 U.S.C. 1641(g). Mr. Schick’s lawyers made a valiant effort, raising a number of arguments that Customs and Border Protection improperly revoked the license without a hearing and, therefore, the revocation is invalid. These arguments were based upon the customs regulations, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. The latter arguments were based on the premise that the lack of a hearing violated Mr. Schick’s due process rights and that the revocation was an excessive punishment. In the first opinion from the Court of International Trade, the Court dismissed the case finding that it had no