Anonymous Patron writes “Seems Homeland Security has extended it’s long arm to include enforcement of patent and trademark infringement laws.
But according to this AP story on Yahoo, there was no infringement.
Seems that Homeland Security is leaping in with both feet without thinking or even looking.
What’s next? Perhaps library dragnets to catch anyone who takes notes or uses copiers?”
Daniel Adds: Since DHS is such a vast agency, it would be helpful to know which subunit visited the store. Too bad that AP via Yahoo doesn’t seem concerned with this.
The story notes that it was Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since ICE enforces criminal trademark infringement cases (as it was part of the Department of the Treasury and illegal importation of fake goods cost the US money it was under its jurisdiction) now as part of DHS it maintains that mission according to its website
That said the Rubik’s cube was patented in the US on March 29,1983 # 4378116 & 4378117. A patent (filed in 1983) is valid 17 years from the date on line 45 (3/29/83) of the grant. So the patent for the Rubik cube patent expired 3/29/2000 – assuming they paid the fees at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years to keep it in force.
Looking at the image of the Magic Cube on the Pufferbelly Toys website it is evident that it is as described in the Rubik’s cube patent mentioned above. However an investigation may have indeed been warranted because there exist valid patents for a 4X4 and 6X6 cube of similar function as well as cylindrical models of the toy. You’re own your own for that patent search I didn’t write down the numbers and it took over an hour.
However I do call shenanigans on parts of the story. I don’t think that customs investigators call first to find if it is convenient for them to investigate you now, or should they come back later. I also find it hard to believe that they would instruct the merchant to remove the items from her shelves- if there were probable cause I must assume they would impound the items.
Finally ICE is the appropriate investigative agency because the magic cube is noted as imported on Pufferbelly’s web site, hence being under the purview of Federal law enforcement.
I’ll explicitly ask the question that I think is begged here:
Was it a good idea to reorganize so much of the Federal government under DHS so as to include within it this sort of responsibility?
Well all of it already was under the executive branch so it really makes little difference into which area one lumps it.
The amalgamation of various agencies including the certain FBI departments, Customs, Immigration, DOJ agencies, former Treasury agencies such as Secret Service and Coast Guard, FEMA all served different masters when they were not under DHS. Now each plays an important role in homeland security : intelligence, prevention, protection, response and recovery.
Just like disaster preparedness for a natural disaster like the hurricanes in Florida we can use the four keys of emergency preparedness for attacks against our nation as well. Planning involves the intelligence as well as technical aspects of keeping our nation safe. Mitigation allows us to reduce our exposure to hazards identified in the planning stage. Response is the coordinated effective response to the disaster – natural or man made. Recovery is picking up the pieces after the disaster and rebuilding. As we move from one stage to another we are constantly updating our intelligence and technique. Just as we learned many lessons in the days after the WTC attack we implemented those lessons.
Emergency preparedness is a constant motion learning from past disasters, planning ways to reduce or elimate the threat, putting those mitigation plans into effect, and then recovering if and when they do happen. We know with some certitude that there will be more hurricanes in Florida, but we cannot say with any certainty that there will be another 9-11-2001 attack, we must simply prepare for it as best we can. Having the various intelligence, law enforcement, planning and recovery agencies under the umbrella of DHS provides improved interagency communication and centralized control.