Importing and IP: Copyright Over the Border |'s Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates

Importing and IP: Copyright Over the Border

The Canadian Border Services Agency has adopted new regulations in order to combat the growing counterfeit market. Prior to 2015, the CBSA had little power when it came to withholding or detaining these types of products, and no formal system for recording IP rights or information was in place, making it difficult to keep counterfeit products from entering the country.

But while there were always steps that a CBSA officer could take if they were suspicious — steps like affiliating themselves with the RCMP and detaining products for a short period of time — a more pragmatic process has been put in place to protect importers with legitimate business.

The CBSA gained more authority

In recent years, CBSA officers have received more power at the border. The Canadian government has fought to give border officers resources and authority when it comes to preventing counterfeit and copyright-infringing products from entering or exiting the country.

Prior to this change, property rights-holders were required to file a court order in order to get help from border officers. Now, the CBSA has the jurisdiction to seize property they deem counterfeit or suspicious while the rights-holder seeks reparations or “civil remedies.”

This signifies a major win for non-resident importers in Canada alongside Canadian businesses. Non-resident importers will no longer have to deal with drawn out court proceedings before investigating potential counterfeit IP. Instead, after an NRI registers their IP in Canada, they will now receive the full services and protections of the CBSA.

Once a CBSA officer seizes products at the border, they will give a request for assistance (RFA). The RFA gives rights-holders 10 days to act by acquiring the correct property documents, going to court, and obtaining a court ordered release of products. The CBSA also provides assistance if a rights-holder needs to find legal help.

Note: rights-holders must apply for RFA with the CBSA and it must be renewed every two years — it’ll help authorities quickly identify the proper copyrights and trademarks.

Importing retail and ecommerce

Whether you’re a local Canadian business or a non-resident importer, it’s important to make note of all your IP assets. As the world enters a more globalized market and with ecommerce becoming a major retail venue, keeping track of your intellectual property will help protect you from counterfeiters.

In recent years, ecommerce has become a target for many businesses in Canada. The digital market has provided Canadians tremendous economic opportunities, but also has opened the door to more counterfeiters — people can always find products of a similar nature online.

So, how do you keep track of your IP? There are a few simple steps to making sure your property stays safe and in your control.

  • Register your IP in Canada
  • Keep track of all your IP assets
  • Build a business plan around your IP
  • Use the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) database
  • Be aware of IP violations

This might seem like a lot of steps, but if you try to be aware from the outset, your IP will have a better chance of staying away from successful counterfeiters.

USMCA and customs brokers

The NAFTA-successor United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement not only changed the rules to its predecessor, but also tweaked a few copyright and trademark laws.

Under USMCA, Canadians have two and half years to extend copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years plus the life of the author. Canada will now have to provide pre-established statutory damages if there is a trademark infringement at the border.

While these aren’t particularly world shattering border regulation changes, Canadian businesses should be made aware of their new border rights. The best way to do so is by contacting a customs broker.

At Clearit, we can provide a broker with the proper knowledge of border laws, as well as an understanding of USMCA going forward. For more information, please contact us today!