ANNOUNCEMENT 02 Mar 2016In March 2016, the government of the United States of America announced a change in import formalities.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
The decision is at http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cafc/15-1509/15-1509-2016-03-02.html. See also the analysis at http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=0036ed78-cbc8-4277-a1b8-c8db29052222&utm_source=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed&utm_medium=HTML+email+-+Body+-+General+section&utm_campaign=Lexology+subscriber+daily+feed&utm_content=Lexology+Daily+Newsfeed+2016-04-01&utm_term=.
In its March 2, 2016 decision in the case of JBLU, Inc. v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit clarified that the term 'trademark,' as used in Customs regulations, includes not only marks registered or applied for in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but also unregistered, common law trademarks that exist simply because they are used by a company.
This decision, according to legal analysts, will remedy a problem with the inconsistent interpreted of law at different Customs ports of entry. The policy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is to enforce marking requirements strictly when goods are labeled with non-origin geographic references that might mislead consumers as to the items' actual country of origin. For example, it will disallow the use of a country name such as 'America' for apparel that is predominantly of Chinese origin.
These requirements are relaxed, however, when the geographic term is part of a trademark that was applied for or registered in the or when it is part of a trade name. In this case, the court found that the importer of jeans marked with the unregistered trademarks 'C'est Toi Jeans USA,' 'CT Jeans USA' and 'C'est Toi Jeans Los Angeles' was entitled to the relaxed labeling standard even though it had not yet applied to register, or registered, these marks with the USPTO.
'Thus,' according to one analyst, 'it is now clear that all Customs ports should apply the relaxed labeling standard to items marked with trademarks containing geographic terms, even as to trademarks that exist only because of their use without registration.'