Senators Tillis (R-NC), Coons (D-DE), Cassidy (R-LA) & Hirono (D-HI) have introduced the “Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019.”
Short and sweet — the two-page bill adds design patent infringement as justification for US Customs and Border Patrol to seize goods at the border.
The amended statute would read as follows.
Merchandise which is introduced or attempted to be introduced into the United States contrary to law shall be treated as follows:
(2)The merchandise may be seized and forfeited if— … (C) it is merchandise or packaging in which copyright, design patent, trademark, or trade name protection violations are involved (including, but not limited to, violations of section 1124, 1125, or 1127 of title 15, section 506 of title 17, section 271 or 289 of title 35,
or section 2318 or 2320 of title 18). . .
Copyright, trademark, and “trade name” violations are already listed in the statute; patents and trade secrets are not listed. The basic idea here is that it is pretty easy for CPB to stack design patents atop their current system that looks at copyright and trademark. The hope here is that a layman (e.g., CPB official) can quickly and easily determine design patent infringement at a relatively high level of accuracy. This would be much more difficult for utility patents, and wouldn’t work for trade secrets without disclosing the secret to CPB.
IPO and INTA both released letters in support of the action.
- Legislation text: ROS19F64
- Tillis Coons Design Counterfeit Seizure Bill 11.20.19
Sen. Tillis is Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and Sen. Coons is Ranking Member. Both have been active at pushing forward a pro-strong-IP-rights agenda. Sen. Hirono is also on the Subcommittee.