Trademarked and Copyrighted Articles

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What are some examples of prohibited and restricted items at customs?

Trademarked and Copyrighted Articles

U.S. Customs enforces laws relating to the protection of trademarks and copyrights. Articles that infringe a federally registered trademark or copyright, i.e., that use the protected right without the authorization of the trademark or copyright owner, are subject to detention and seizure. Articles bearing marks that are counterfeit of a federally registered trademark are subject to seizure and forfeiture. Additionally, the importation of articles bearing counterfeit marks may subject an individual to a civil monetary penalty if the registered trademark has also been recorded with Customs. Articles bearing marks that are confusingly similar to a registered trademark, and gray market articles (goods bearing genuine marks not intended for importation into the United States) may be subject to detention and seizure. However, passengers arriving into the United States are permitted to import one article, which must accompany the person, bearing a counterfeit, confusingly similar or restricted gray market trademark, provided that the article is for personal use and is not for sale. This exeption may be granted not more than once every thirty days. The arriving passenger may retain one article of each type accompanying the person. For example, an arriving person who has three purses, whether each bears a different infringing trademark, or whether all three bear the same infringing trademark, is permitted one purse. If the article imported under the personal exemption provision is sold within one year after the date of importation, the article or its value is subject to forfeiture. In regard to copyright infringement, articles that are determined to be clearly piratical of a federally registed copyright, i.e., unauthorized articles that are substantially similar to a material protected part of a copyright, are subject to seizure. Articles that are determined to be possibly piratical may be subject to detention and possible seizure. A personal use exemption similar to that described above also applies in respect of copyrighted articles. You may bring back genuine trademarked and copyrighted articles (subject to duties). The copyrighted products most commonly imported include CD-ROMs, tape cassettes, toys, stuffed animals, clothing with cartoon characters, videotapes, videocassettes, music CDs, and books.



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