Trademark infringement helping the needy?March 28, 2007

In November, 2006, approximately $200,000 worth of action figures were detained at the United States-Canada border by US Customs and Border Protection. They were stopped under the authority granted to the US Customs and Border Protection office, to prevent importation of goods that violate another company’s trademark or copyright rights. In order to take advantage of these enforcement powers, a company that owns a trademark registered with the USPTO or a copyright registered with the US Copyright Office must record its rights with US Customs. In this case, the story not only had a good outcome for the trademark owner, but also for children in three communities in Montana, Great Falls, Billings, and Helena. This is because the trademark owner, instead of asking that the seized action figures (3,876 of them) be destroyed, authorized them to be given to Toys for Tots, the Marine Corps charity that collects toys for underprivileged children. The action figures will be divided among the three communities’ Toys for Tots programs. Unfortunately, the article does not mention which company owned the trademark, and the figures are just described as “12-inch figures, dressed in military clothing,” so it’s unclear which company made the decision to allow the counterfeit toys to be donated instead of destroyed. However, it was a nice gesture to use the power of trademark law to help some less fortunate—an opportunity that doesn’t come along in trademark law very often.

← Return to Filewrapper

Stay in Touch

Receive the latest news and updates from us and our attorneys.

Sign Up