Combating Counterfeit Products Coming into Canada

Backgrounder

Scope of the issue

The harm associated with the trade in counterfeit goods is significant. Counterfeit products can pose health and safety risks to Canadians and their families, resulting in decreased consumer confidence in the marketplace, lost tax revenue for the government and lost income for businesses who suffer from such infringement.

Counterfeit trademark goods, commonly described as "knock-offs", closely resemble the legitimate product and bear an imitation or non-genuine trademark.

The retail value of counterfeit goods seized by the RCMP increased from $7.6 million in 2005 to $38 million in 2012. This is only a fraction of global trade in counterfeit goods. Similar to Canada, other countries have seen an upward trend in both counterfeiting cases and total retail values.

For several years, Canadian business and industry associations have been recommending legislative changes to better address the modern practices involved in counterfeiting. Some of the most recent recommendations were given in 2012 during hearings of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

Measures proposed in this Bill

Once passed, this Bill will help to reduce the presence of counterfeit trademark goods in Canada, thereby protecting the integrity of our economy, supporting Canadian growth and job creation, and helping protect Canadians and their families from the health and safety risks posed by harmful counterfeit goods.

The Bill will help to reduce trade in counterfeit goods by providing new enforcement tools to strengthen Canada's existing enforcement regime for counterfeit goods, as well as bolster our existing protections against commercial counterfeiting activities.

The best way to stop illegal counterfeiting is to prevent commercial counterfeit goods from being sold and distributed in Canada.

The Bill will bolster Canada's enforcement regime at the border and domestically, and will address the negative impacts of counterfeit goods by:

  • giving border officers the authority to detain suspected shipments and contact the rights holders;
  • allowing Canadian businesses to file a "request for assistance" with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), in turn, enabling border officers to share information with rights holders regarding suspect shipments;
  • providing new criminal offences for the commercial possession, manufacture or trafficking of trademark counterfeit goods;
  • providing legitimate owners with new tools to protect their rights and take civil action against infringers;
  • creating new offences for trademark counterfeiting; and
  • providing better tools to investigate commercial counterfeiting.

The Bill will also strengthen the Trade-marks Act to support enforcement activities.

These proposals recognize that the most effective way to stop the proliferation of counterfeit goods is by targeting those who create and sell the goods. The Bill is designed to ensure that federal agencies and rights holders target their efforts toward those individuals and groups who seek to gain commercially from the sale of these goods and not the individuals who purchase them for personal use.