The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security held a hearing this morning on counterfeit goods. The panel was well stacked, featuring the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, and the CRIA. Given that composition, the resulting comments will come as little surprise – a Chamber of Commerce representative professed embarrassment over Canada's IP laws, the CACN representatives passed around an extension cord without sufficent grounding while asserting that "fatalities are inevitable" and that IP enforcement is a "lost cause" in Canada. A CACN lawyer noted the great success of educating six and seven year-olds about counterfeit toys that do not contain a tag indicating that they are made of new materials. Graham Henderson indicated that it was about "jobs, jobs, jobs" and that Kenya provides a model for addressing IP issues (though he neglected to mention that like Canada, Kenya has signed, but not ratified, the WIPO Internet treaties).
The panelists all claimed that Canada's IP enforcement system is outdated and thus requires significant new resources and legislative change. There was also considerable emphasis on creating a Canadian IP enforcement infrastructure, with Henderson calling for the creation of an IP Crime Task Force and IP Co-ordination Councils at the federal and provincial levels.
The committee was incredibly receptive to this message.
Read more ›
My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) picks up on last week's posting on the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network's claims about counterfeiting in Canada. In begins by noting that based on recent media coverage, people unfamiliar with Canada could be forgiven for assuming that all Canadians sport pirate […]
Read more ›
Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 5, 2007 as Piracy in Canada Noise Getting Tiresome Based on recent media coverage, people unfamiliar with Canada could be forgiven for assuming that all Canadians sport pirate eye-patches while searching for counterfeit treasure. The "Canada as a piracy haven" meme has been […]
Read more ›
CRIA's Graham Henderson was back in the spotlight yesterday with a speech delivered on behalf of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network at the Economic Club of Toronto understatedly titled "Canada Awash in Piracy" An Action Plan to Secure Our Prosperity". The speech, which has yet to be posted online (then again, CRIA has not posted a release or a speech since last September), followed the usual CRIA formula:
- law firm sponsors to help fill the room (McCarthy Tetrault)
- a questionable Pollara study (this one focused on Canadians' appetite for counterfeit goods)
- cracks at law professors ("we don't have a [piracy party] here yet but there are rumours that some law professors are putting one together")
- an astonishingly critical portrayal of Canada and Canadian policy makers (Canada has "a poorly developed marketplace framework for intellectual property rights", low Canadian attendance at a WIPO counterfeiting conference was "a grievous oversight and it sends a disturbing message", etc.)
There are several issues worth noting about the speech. First, I don't know many people who are in favour of commercial counterfeiting. If the allegations regarding organized crime involvement and health and safety issues (counterfeit pharmaceuticals, batteries, toys) are even partially true, Canada should have a legal system to address these concerns. Henderson suggested several reforms (trademark reform, customs powers) that would likely prove relatively uncontroversial in that regard.
The problem with this latest campaign is that it massively overstates the problem and seeks to conflate commercial counterfeiting with other activities that are not nearly as problematic.
Read more ›