Nexus revocation due to import of an item that was seized by US Customs.

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Nov 18, 2018
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#1
I ordered some Android TV boxes online for home use, but they were seized by US customs due to the fact that the HDMI trademark was violated.
Since I did not know that, and they were for home use, I assumed I just lost the devices and would have to live with it.
Then I got a letter from a NYC boutique law firm threatening me with a law suit, if I did not provide more information about who I purchased it from,
and who I sold it to. Since I had not purchased it for resale, or knew any more than the law firm, I emailed them back and heard nothing more.
But now, about 1 1/2 year later, my NEXUS pass got revoked and the application for my 91 year old father got disapproved due to not meeting eligibility requirements.
I am wondering if this is a standard, or just an interpretation. And can I fight this or do I need to reapply and hope they will allow it again?
 

Neil Maley

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#2
Feb 16, 2018
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#3
This appears to be a standard action due to violation of customs regulations. You may request more information but it appears that 6years may be a possible length of revocation.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
Is there a reason that you ordered an android tv boxes from overseas and not buy something domestic? And how many did you purchase?

It is not legal to import goods that infringe:

"Section 42 of the Lanham Act [15 U.S.C. Section 1124] and Section 526 of the Tariff Act prohibit the importation of goods which “copy or simulate” registered trademarks owned by United States citizens or corporations. The Customs Service is authorized to exclude infringing merchandise from the Customs territory of the United States, seize it and forfeit it. "

Nexus/GE are trusted traveler programs that focus on customs/immigration, and there is basically a zero tolerance policy and an expectation that one knows and understands the rules.

I have Global Entry and declare my chocolates and gummy bears (yes I love gummy bears) under food every time I come back to the US.

I would not immediately reapply, you could write to the ombudsman but that may take months for an answer.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
Under a freedom of information act request, a list of Global Entry revocations was released. Reasons for revocations included (block copied from the document):

SUBJECT VIOLATED TRUSTED TRAVELER PROGRAM. TTP
R/R SECT 6; FAILURE TO PROVIDE A TRUTHFUL
DECLARATION, SECT 8; VIOLATION OF ANY CBP
IMMIGRATION, CUSTOMS OR AGRICULTURAL LAWS, AND
SECT 9; ACTIONS OR BEHAVIOR THAT LEADS CBP TO
BELIEVE THAT SUBJECT IS NO LONGER A LOW-RISK
TRAVELER.

Failure to declare food items. Violation of terms and conditions
of trusted traveler program.

Your Global Entry membership is being revoked at this time
because you transported over $10,000 in U.S. currency and
failed to declare it On January 23, 2017 at the Atlanta Hartsfield
Jackson Airport.

Revoked due to violation of Customs Law.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#6
I also would not reapply. Your fee is not refunded if you are rejected again and unless you can clear this up, you are wasting your money reapplying - you bought illegal imports and that remains on your record.

I did some research - the box itself isn't illegal, but if it is modified to receive digital tv - then they are illegal. Is that what you bought?

The word is that Android TV Boxes are legal to purchase and there is no illegal element attached to it if you are using them at your home. However, the issue arises if you are modifying these devices to receive digital TV subscription channels without paying any charges. For example, if you are streaming or downloading certain content that is copyrighted; you may be entering the illegal territory of using Android TV boxes. The devices have become the favorite of masses as they can play games, watch the popular shows on big screens i.e. their TV sets without having to pay a penny but they may not have the idea that they are indulging in illegal stuff by doing this if they are streaming and/or downloading restricted stuff.
 
Nov 18, 2018
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#7
When you emailed them back, did you tell them who you bought them from? And that you were buying them for your own use?

Yes it can be revoked for customs violations- we’ve seen it here before.

You can try to appeal:

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1150/kw/Nexus revoked/session/L3RpbWUvMTU0MjU3NjQ3MC9zaWQvRFlEbXE4Km4=

But I would suggest you contact the law firm that contacted you about the issue.
Yes, I emailed the IP law firm telling them I was not aware of the the issue, and that they had been purchased for personal use only.
The law firm was only interested in Intellectual property (the HDMI license), not about the legality of the boxes themselves.
The HDMI issue was the reason for the US customs seizure, not anything else.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
Were the boxes significantly cheaper? Is that why you paid for international shipping? Were these items on a "marketplace" of any well known web sites? I am trying to think of any mitigating circumstances that can be mentioned in case an appeal is sent to the ombudsman.

Something to keep in mind:

Correspondence to the Trusted Traveler Ombudsman should contain supporting information that can demonstrate the denial or revocation was based on inaccurate information. Having a criminal record and/or past violation of CBP laws/regulations/policies may render you ineligible for participation in all trusted traveler programs. These programs have strict criteria for participation
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,700
13,757
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
Why did you buy them overseas rather then ones thst you can get through a cable company?

It actually doesn’t matter- you bought something that was illegal and were caught. I would suggest you contact the attorneys and tell them was happened and ask them what you can do.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
JVillagegirl you ask a good question. And after thinking more about this and consulting with an IP attorney, all I can say is what a mess.

This was a trademark violation on the HDMI — which may mean that the company had a knockoff cable or it may mean that there was a licensing disagreement..

The OP’s situation is not as if a person with Global Entry ordered ivory elephant tusks online and then acts shocked when they are seized. Tusks are easily verified as illegal; a trademark violation on a cable that is a component is another.

I asked the IP lawyer what it takes for customs to seize for trademark violation and got response about ITC and then I faded out. I asked if customs is basically being an outsourced enforcer and was told perfectly legal.

The law firm did not pursue the OP as they wanted the big fish — the seller and the OP is not a professional reseller and there would be little financial benefit in pursuing the OP.

Somehow the paperwork on the seized package was cross referenced with the OP’s global entry and it was revoked. The OP was the importer of record so that is why the revocation came.

My understanding is that electronics items are often inspected by customs.

One needs to be careful on what they order from overseas vendors. Electronics, fashion items (ie knock offs) are areas of concern.

When I have purchased from overseas vendors I have been careful with what I buy and from whom. There is also a professional shipper and customs broker involved.

Customs issues are very complicated and the OP unintentionally got caught up in something extremely technical— could be a licensing issue on a component but that was enough for the items to be seized.

I do have a great deal of sympathy for the OP.