Clothing, movies top Canada's counterfeits: police

Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:37pm EDT
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Tough economic times have likely fueled Canadians' appetite for cheap counterfeit goods, and that demand will remain even as the economy improves, according to police study released on Thursday.

The sale of fake brand-name goods -- from DVDs to designer clothes and even auto parts -- is often viewed as a victimless crime, but it can be a safety concern. It is also a threat to Canada's economic integrity and international reputation, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Canada is looking to strengthen its intellectual property laws to combat pirated movies and CDs, but is still seen by trading partners as ineffective in dealing with the production and importation of pirated goods, the RCMP report warns.

The report acknowledged police catch only a small fraction of the counterfeits, but says they have successfully reduced the production of pirated movies in the Montreal area, which had drawn the wrath of Hollywood.

Canada is a source of pirated media found online, but China and the United States are the two biggest suppliers of illegally imported counterfeit products, the RCMP said in the report.

Clothing, movies and video games remain the most popular counterfeit goods in Canada, but police investigations between 2005 and 2008 uncovered pirated and fake products ranging from cancer drugs to automobile spark plugs.

"The depressed economy and the availability of such goods may play a role in the increasing demand for counterfeit and pirated products," the report said.

The report warns that many people who bought counterfeit goods to save money will keep doing so even as the economy improves. Availability will also likely increase, in part because of increased global trade.

Police seized counterfeit goods worth an estimated C$63.6 million ($62 million) between 2005 and 2008, while a public opinion poll in 2008 found a quarter of Canadians had admitted to knowingly buying a counterfeit or pirated product.

(Reporting Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson)