Recently, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the federal organization responsible for policing Canada’s borders, issued a Customs Notice (CN17-27) to advise the public and rights holders that its 24/7 “Border Watch” hotline now accepts information, or tips, on “dangerous” counterfeit goods or pirated copies that are destined for Canada.

Rights holders that learn of incoming shipments of counterfeit goods or pirated copies that represent a health, safety or security threat can alert the CBSA through its dedicated and confidential hotline. The hotline is a fast and effective way to prevent entry into Canada of counterfeit goods or pirated copies that will damage a rights holder’s brand and threaten Canadians’ health and safety.

The CBSA will inspect the goods or copies upon arrival and, if considered dangerous, detain them at the border. The CBSA may also enlist the help of relevant federal departments or organizations, such as Health Canada, where the counterfeit goods are pharmaceutical products that are not approved for sale in Canada, for example, or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, where the goods represent a security threat to Canadians. This mechanism may also assist rights holders in defending against parallel imports, or “grey market” goods, in Canada.

Rights holders may alert the CBSA to an incoming shipment by providing any of the following information:

  • a description of the goods and their intended end use;
  • the reason that the goods are dangerous, and supporting documentary evidence;
  • countries of origin and export;
  • names and addresses of the exporter, shipper, importer, and/or consignee; and
  • mode of transport, expected date of arrival, and port of entry.

Rights holders need not provide the CBSA with affidavits or sworn statements including this information; rather, they may contact the CBSA over the phone through its dedicated hotline to provide it with any of the above-noted information. The calls – and the callers’ identities – are kept completely confidential.

This hotline is yet another tool available to rights holders that wish to protect their brands in Canada. The Government of Canada previously introduced a system whereby trademark and copyright owners may record their rights with the CBSA, which will then detain any commercial shipments suspected of containing counterfeit goods or pirated copies bearing or containing the rights holders’ marks or works. The CBSA will also share with rights holders certain information about the shipments and their exporters, shippers, importers, and consignees (as applicable), so that rights holders may commence suitable proceedings in court. However, in order to take advantage of this customs recordal system, it is necessary that a right holder’s marks be registered in Canada or be the subject of copyright protection, as unregistered trademarks cannot be recorded with the CBSA.

The CBSA’s Border Watch toll-free hotline may be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-502-9060 within the United States and Canada. The hotline is available in both English and French.