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Protect Your Copyright With U.S. Customs


Anne Field's article ("How to Knock Out Knockoffs," Spring, 2005), was dead-on in the advice it provided to small business owners with valuable intellectual property.

As an intellectual-property rights attorney, I frequently advise clients of another cost-effective method for protecting these assets. Registered trademarks, copyrights, and certain trade names may be recorded with the U.S. Customs Service. (There is a small fee -- $190 for a trademark in each class, for instance.) Customs will then seize any counterfeit or infringing goods coming into the U.S. and notify the intellectual-property owner. This service remains in force for the life of the trademark or copyright.

For many companies, this method can be more effective and less expensive than taking enforcement action after knockoffs have already entered the U.S. This won't stop all pirates and infringers, but it will free up valuable time and resources to fight other battles as needed.

MARGARET MINISTER O'KEEFE

Intellectual Property Attorney

Pierce Atwood LLP

Portland, Me.


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