What to Know about Cell Phone Importing


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Importing cell phones into different countries is just as complicated as other imports due to the possibility that the pricing may be too low, the merchandise could be stolen or other regulations may have been bypassed for the sales. This requires certain government bodies to become involved in these matters and for additional laws to be passed and implemented.

When a United States company exports broken or damaged phones to another country such as China to make repairs, the products are often returned to the country or sent to a dealer or vendor in a closer location for possible deals. Once the phones are in the other country, lesser paid employees are often working to put on newer batteries, replace screens or remove scratches and cracks. The phones are in good working condition once again, and then they are either imported back to the United States, or to the closer vendor. At this point, the phones may be placed on sale locally or through other countries.

The refurbished phones may then become part of the secondary cell phone market. However, the United States Customs and Border Protection or CBP may detain the shipment because of intellectual property rights of the cell phone companies or IP owners. If the importing person or company does not, after 30 days, supply legitimate evidence that is sufficient to demonstrate authenticity for the cell phones, the CBP will seize the shipment for violations of the cell phone company’s IP rights. The importing company that is hired by the American cell phone business is left confused and unsure of what to do in these situations. This then leads to further complications and difficulties for everyone involved.

Cell Phone Export Complications

Other than a shipment being seized by the local authorities, there are other complications that may arise when attempting to import cell phones. One problem is that products repaired in another country are shipped back with different parts in most circumstances. The cell phone housing may have a different one replacing the damaged part, and this often has a different license than with the original company. The trademark from the initial business is not often replaced, but a different trademark may have been marked on the housing. This shows authorities that the products were returned or are being imported without the proper identification and documentation.

Because of circumstances such as that and similar, the CBP considers the housings as counterfeit. Importing products that are deemed counterfeit is not usually possible when managing shipments through proper channels. Then, if the items are imported from another country at a cost far below standard pricing, the country of origination and the importing country may face legal action. This could include fines, an increase in costs to the shipment based on certain law violations and other remedies sought by the government or companies affected. It is crucial to understand the laws and regulations of other countries when importing items from these foreign nations.

Other Issues with Importing

When governments or foreign companies are not involved in exporting from their countries into the United States, there are possible greater issues that concern these deals. It is possible to purchase parts and even manufacture overseas when certain arrangements are made so they may be imported, but if the entire phone is purchased through a country at a large scale with lower pricing than standard, the government’s laws may take effect. The shipment could be flagged for possible counterfeiting, for pricing violations and it could be seized as the United States Customs accomplishes in similar situations.

If an agency or the government becomes involved, the company or individual may get lucky with only a fine. He or she could face more severe penalties such as never importing cell phones or other products form the country in the future or he or she could face the International Criminal Court is certain offenses are involved with nations or states governed by the ICC. However, foreign powers such as these may only become involved if there are gross violations to human rights or similar concerns. The penalties could still cost the business a great amount.

International Lawyer Help with Imports

If the foreign country is involved in the matter, it is important to hire a lawyer that understands the laws of the countries in the deal. The more information, the better a defense may be crafted. This may protect the rights of the importing party and help reduce or eliminate penalties.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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