Earlier this week, CNN.com published a story detailing how Chinese fakes were cashing in on what CNN termed “Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones bonanza.” Link here.
According to a World Customs Organization report cited by CNN nearly 70% of all fake goods – including clothing, DVDs, and electronic goods – seized worldwide from 2008 – 2010 came from China.
According to the article, U.S., sales of headphones rose by a third last year to $2.4 billion. Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones make up almost 70% of high-end headphone sales during the Christmas period. While Beats headphones can retail for $400, Chinese fakes wholesale for $70.
Beats electronics said in an email to CNN that the company shows a “’fierce commitment’” to fight piracy and that it works in close collaboration with anti-counterfeiting organizations, police and customs authorities to identify counterfeit sellers, distributors and manufactures in key markets. Beats electronics also scans online market places for unauthorized uses of its trademarks.
The problem of counterfeiting presents unique challenges to brand owners. A large part of our practice focuses on developing and implementing intellectual property protection strategies for our clients. A key tactic for fighting counterfeiting is working effectively with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The CBP examines cargo as it enters the United States and seizes goods that appear to infringe registered trademarks that have been recorded with the CBP. The CBP can issue monetary fines and can engage the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute offenders. The CBP also coordinates and can participate in raids on facilities producing counterfeit goods.
One of the first steps a brand owner should take in working with the CBP is to record its registered trademarks with the CBP. Once registered, information about the trademark is available to CBP officers around the world. Brand owners can provide the CBP with images of their marks, suspected counterfeits, product identification guides and information about shipments the brand owner believes may be infringing.
If a brand owner fails to register its trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that brand owner may be foregoing enforcement action and resources that are available to owners of registered trademarks. Working effectively with the CBP should be part of any serious strategy to deal with counterfeit goods.
Our office has extensive experience dealing directly the CBP on behalf of our clients to record trademarks with the CBP and determining if goods are in fact counterfeit. Should you have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this post, please contact Chicago trademark attorney Marcus S. Harris.