Reliable Time Inc. imported a shipment of watches into the United States. The watches contained the mark “Lauren” which is a registered trademark owned by Ralph Lauren. U.S. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized the watches pursuant to the Tariff Act, which authorizes seizure of any “merchandise bearing a counterfeit mark.” Ralph Lauren did not make or sell watches at the time of the seizure. Reliable argued that because Ralph Lauren did not make watches at the time of the seizure, the watches it imported were not counterfeit, and the civil penalty imposed by CBP was unlawful. The government argued that the mark was counterfeit and that the Tariff Act does not require the owner of the registered mark to make the same type of goods as those bearing the offending mark.
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