The Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced on December 7, 2016 that the Commissioner of Competition (Commissioner) had reached a settlement with Moose International Inc. (Moose) regarding his concerns over Moose’s “Made in Canada” advertising and labelling with respect to certain of its premium brand parkas. The settlement brings to an end legal proceedings between the parties that had started earlier this year.
As part of the settlement and while not admitting to the Commissioner’s allegations, Moose has agreed to donate $750,000 over five years to Canadian charities providing winter jackets to children in need. Additionally, Moose also agreed to make it clearer in its advertising and labelling that certain parkas are in fact made with Canadian and imported components and to implement an internal compliance program to help ensure that these types of advertising and labelling issues not arise in the future. Moose has also advised the Commissioner that it will be adding certain additional operations to its Canadian factories that manufacture its parkas.
In June, we reported that, following the completion of an inquiry into Moose’s marketing practices, the Commissioner had filed an application (Application) before the Competition Tribunal alleging that certain of Moose’s “Made in Canada” representations had created a materially false or misleading general impression with consumers and, as such, were contrary to paragraph 74.01(1)(a) of the Competition Act (Act). Moose’s response to the Application denied the Commissioner’s allegations and any breach of the Act.
In support of his Application, the Commissioner made extensive reference to his “Product of Canada” and “Made in Canada” Claims Enforcement Guidelines (Guidelines) which he had issued in 2009 to provide predictability for businesses regarding the assessment by the Commissioner of “Product of Canada” and “Made in Canada” claims. Moose responded by denying that its marketing activities fell below the standard set out in the Guidelines and, regardless, argued that the Guidelines were not, in fact, the law.
What is perhaps most notable about the settlement is that it was arrived at using a relatively new mediation process. This settlement represents the second such settlement using mediation as a tool to achieve a timely and efficient resolution in a dispute with the Commissioner.