One of the many benefits of federal trademark registration with the USPTO is the ability to ‘record’ the trademark with U.S. Customs.
Customs agents will then be on the lookout for infringers and knock-offs – helping to police the trademark for you – at its 317 ports of entry. The cost for Customs recordation is just $190 per International Class of goods. Also, trademarks recorded with Customs show up in their database (http://iprs.cbp.gov) which may be searched by importers or others and could potentially prevent an infringement from happening without you lifting a finger or even knowing it. While there is no guarantee that Customs will catch an infringing shipment, the potential value of such a catch far outweighs the $190 filing fee.
I recently decided to experience the Customs recording process first hand to learn more about it. I registered my Apptorney® trademark with U.S. Customs.
This is what the recordation looks like in the Customs online database (click image to enlarge):
The recordation process was quite simple to complete online and took less than 15 minutes.
Here is the text of email from Customs confirming the recordation had been made:
Dear Erik Pelton:
The following Trademark e-Recordation. has been recorded with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Intellectual Property Rights Branch
Copyright Office/PTO Reg. No.: 3902187
CBP Recordation No.: TMK 11-00163
Effective Date: 2/15/2011
This trademark recordation has been added to Customs Intellectual Property Rights computer module for access by CBP Officers at all ports of entry.
We would also like to inform you that we recently implemented Intellectual Property Rights e-Recordation (IPRR), an online application system for recording trademarks and copyrights. We encourage you to use the system, as it significantly reduces the application processing period. The URL is: https://apps.cbp.gov/e-recordations/.
In addition, public versions of each of CBP’s more than 18,000 IPR recordations can now be viewed online at the “IPRS” (Intellectual Property Rights Search) database located at the CBP website at the following web address: http://iprs.cbp.gov/
Within 24 hours, you can view your recordation at: http://iprs.cbp.gov/index.asp?action=search&searchArg=TMK+11%2D00163
Please note that it is the recordant’s responsibility to promptly advise CBP of any material changes made to recordations including, but not limited to, changes in ownership or control, licensees, manufacturers, contact persons, and telephone numbers. Furthermore, in order to ensure uninterrupted enforcement of a recordation by the CBP, it is the recordant’s responsibility to promptly re-record recordations upon their expiration. When providing this office with such updates, please send the information to:
Intellectual Property Rights Branch
Office of Regulations & Rulings
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Department of Homeland Security
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Mint Annex, Washington, D.C. 20229.