Bill C-56 attempts to amend Copyright Act and Trade-Marks Act

Posted byjames on March 14, 2013

On March 1st the Conservative government put forward Bill C-56 for first reading. Bill C-56 seeks to amend the Copyright Act and Trade-Marks Act in substantive ways, implementing new civil and criminal penalties and offenses for copyright and trade-mark infringement, and increased border controls.

Bill C-56 is still in an early stage in the legislative process and subject to change (or potential defeat, although this is unlikely as the Conservatives command a significant majority in the house). If ultimately passed in substantially its current form it will result in significant changes to the enforcement of copyrights and trade-marks in Canada.

Most of the substantive changes relate to the import and export of infringing materials. This includes new criminal offenses, and new powers for customs agents to seize infringing goods; including the ability of copyright and trade-mark holders to request assistance for protection of there rights.

Other provisions are focused more on 'modernization' of the Trade-Marks act, and minor clarificaitons of the law and the operation of the Trade-Mark Registry. One point of clarification for the Copyright Act of particular note is a provision outlining that importation of grey market goods (goods authorized by the rights holder in the country of origin but not the importing country) is not an offense under S. 42 of the copyright act.

Many of these changes would be helpful to copyright and trade-mark holders seeking to protect their brands and are being welcomed (see for example Mr. Sookman's commentary at However there has been some concern that this legislation is primarily a mechanism to appease foreign interests (either the US, who has been pushing for similar rights through the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement talks, or the EU, with whom Canada is currently negotiating a free trade agreement.)  (See for example Professor Geist’s commentary at


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