Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Piracy, Counterfeiting and Montebello Manifesto

As expected, there’s a whole lot of huff, puff and stuff about counterfeiting and piracy from Montebello.

I’m sure that it’s purely coincidental that there was a huge bust fake involving allegedly illegal DVDs announced today in Toronto.

And that Lucky and Flo are being honoured in Malaysia.

Turns out that Lucky and Flo can’t actually tell which DVDs are fake and which are real (never mind which are parallel imports) - which will also be a problem for many peace officers and customs officials (an maybe even some lawyers?), so we shouldn’t be too critical about Lucky and Flo. Besides, they are so cute.

It looks like the RCMP, OPP, etc . will be thrilled that they can now ask for awesome new resources to fight piracy and counterfeiting. And what normal peace officer wouldn’t prefer to raid flea markets than chase cigarette and drug smugglers carrying machine guns or even worse on speed boats in the dead of night?

In all seriousness, there are some issues here.

• Pirate and counterfeit goods are much more brazenly sold on the streets in mid town New York than anywhere I know of in Canada. (I admit that I don’t frequent flea markets.) The USA can’t control this problem on their own streets, including Fifth Avenue in NYC.

• There is a real danger that parallel imports will get caught up in this frenzy. These goods are genuine and legal by definition, but there will always be those who try to block them from importation, and who don’t mind if folks such as border officials, police, the press, and the populace get confused about the difference between pirated or counterfeit goods (illegal) and grey or parallel imports (legal). We have just recently succeeded at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Euro-Excellence v. Kraft case in fighting off an attempt to block parallel imports based upon copyright in some elements of the packaging of absolutely genuine Toblerone chocolate bars. However, I have little doubt that there will still be lots of goods and shipments that will be stopped at the border or seized in stores and fought about because of allegations of “infringement” that turn out to be unfounded because the goods are really parallel imports and not pirated or counterfeit goods and somebody doesn't understand or doesn't want others to understand the difference and the law, or simply as a result of mistaken or over zealous efforts by police and border officials.


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