Preventing counterfeit, illegally labelled and grey market goods from the Canadian marketplace is tremendously important for Canadian businesses as well as consumers. These goods present health and safety risks to Canadian consumers, in addition to lost economic opportunities for producers.
Counterfeit: Goods that claim to be something they are not. Usually, this involves putting a well-known trademark on an imitation of a product to deceive customers into thinking the product is genuine.
Illegally labelled: Products that do not adhere to Canadian labelling requirements. Imported products must meet the same labelling requirements as those produced in Canada and are subject to the same level of enforcement as domestic products. The importer is responsible for ensuring that products imported to Canada are compliant with Canadian regulations. Products with non-compliant labels may be imported provided that the importer gives Health Canada or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (whichever is responsible for the type of product) notification of the proposed importation and the product is re-labelled or modified as may be necessary to enable its sale to be lawful in Canada. Retailers are also obligated to ensure that the products they sell are compliant with the appropriate regulations.
Grey market: Legitimate goods that were intended for sale by the intellectual property rights (IPR) holder in one jurisdiction and that were later imported into another jurisdiction without authority for resale. Grey market activity has evolved due to market differentials that make it financially enticing to purchase goods in one market and resell them in another market.
Counterfeit products have been addressed by the federal government via legislation that will give border officers the authority to intercept, search and seize counterfeit goods coming into Canada. To read FCPC's comment on the passing of the legislation, click here.
The Combating Counterfeit Products Act will:
- Provide legislative authority to RCMP and customs officials to intercept, search and seize counterfeit goods and other products where there is an infringement of copyright/trademarks, both coming into and going out of Canada
- Establish criminal provisions for infringement of copyright and trademarks when products are meant for commercial use.
- Allow border authorities to contact rights holders when suspect goods are intercepted at the border
- Allow border officers and rights holders to share information
- Allow rights holders to contact border officials to request a search for suspect goods
- Allow businesses to file a Request for Assistance (RFA) with the government regarding suspect shipments
This legislation makes it easier to prosecute those importing, selling or distributing counterfeit products in Canada and will act as an important deterrent. However, the passing of this legislation is not case-closed on the issue. FCPC will continue to advocate for additional action on reducing counterfeit products in the marketplace. We will continue to press the government to take action on internet sales that carry illegal products and address the presence of goods with non-compliant labels.
FCPC is part of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN), which is a coalition of individuals, companies and associations united against product counterfeiting and copyright piracy in Canada and internationally.
To visit the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website for combating counterfeit products, click here. CBSA also maintains a Border Watch toll-free line for the reporting of suspicious border activity, which can be found here.