CBSA’s Request for Assistance Program: 2021 Update
The Request for Assistance (RFA) program, administered by CBSA, is designed to assist with detection and detention of suspect counterfeit and pirated goods at the border, and empower rights holders to take action against importers of such goods. To enroll, rights holders must file an application with CBSA that identifies the copyrights, or registered trademarks or geographical indications of concern (which list can be updated as new rights arise). RFAs are valid for two years once approved and are renewable for subsequent successive two-year periods. The program has been in place since 2015. There is currently no government fee to apply.
2021 BY THE NUMBERS
The RFA program saw substantial growth during 2021, both in terms of participants and detentions by CBSA. By year end, over 260 rights holders were enrolled in the program, with these RFAs covering in excess of 3600 rights. These are the highest numbers to date and represents over 50% growth in new participants in the program compared to 2020.
The number of detentions has also increased nearly four-fold year over year, breaking 1000 for the first time in the program’s history and amounting to more than half of the cumulative total of interceptions since the RFA program began. Over 90% of rights holders enrolled in the program who were notified of detentions involving their intellectual property rights acted against the importer. CBSA reports that of those rights holders who took action in 2021, nearly 80% secured settlement with the importer.
The RFA program remains a vital tool for rights holders. It provides an opportunity for enhanced brick and mortar and online enforcement. Counterfeiters and piraters are continuously implementing new ways to conceal goods on import in an effort to evade detection.
Participating in the RFA program is an efficient, cost effective and increasingly useful way for rights holders to obtain information about the origin of counterfeit goods and large wholesale networks and distributors overseas. Additionally, the information collected can provide invaluable insight to brands about emerging hotspots, new platforms advertising and selling counterfeit goods, and assist in the identification of popular domestic resellers. The 2021 statics out of the RFA program are encouraging and demonstrate that the CBSA is continuing to devote efforts to making the program part of a suite of tools to stop counterfeit and pirated goods before they enter the stream of commerce in Canada.