Counterfeit luxury products not simply a question of trademark infringement

January 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

stock-photo-intellectual-property-and-related-words-in-word-collage-100324247Smart, Biggar, and Fetherstonhaugh, a Canadian law firm practising exclusively in intellectual property and technology law, advises that deterring counterfeiters is particularly important to luxury brand owners. For this reason, they should always keep in mind that augmented damage awards may be available when seeking concurrent relief for copyright infringement as well as trademark infringement. Similarly, brand owners in copyright industries should keep this in mind and consideration should be given to seeking both copyright and trademark relief in all counterfeiting and pirating scenarios in Canada. Considering the question from the point of view of luxury brand owners exemplifies the point.

Copyright aims to protect against the unauthorised reproduction of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Logos and designs or patterns used by luxury brands may constitute artistic works in which copyright subsists in Canada. Further, in the case of a counterfeit item, such works are clearly reproduced without the consent of the copyright holder.

Smart & Biggar states that even though trademark and copyright law each protect different interests, they are not mutually exclusive and in many cases the sale and distribution of a counterfeit product or a pirated copyright work may constitute both trademark and copyright infringement. In such circumstances, they recommend brand owners to be mindful of the possibility of claiming both trademark infringement and copyright infringement not only to maximise their damages but, ultimately, to have an increased deterrent effect on counterfeiters [in Canada]. Source: Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh

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