The winter wear brand wins court decision in Sweden
The premium outerwear company announced Tuesday that the District Court of Stockholm has found five individuals guilty of felony fraud, trademark infringement and customs offences for manufacturing and selling thousands of cheap Canada Goose knock-offs between 2009 and 2012.
Two of the five Swedish nationals were given prison sentences, while Canada Goose was also awarded damages totaling 701,000 Swedish krona, or approximately $105,000 Canadian.
“It’s huge,” said Kevin Spreekmeester, Toronto-based vice-president of global marketing for Canada Goose, and co-chair of the Canadian Intellectual Property Council (CPIC).
“We work hard at fighting counterfeiting on a global basis, and victories like this really send a shot over the bow of would-be counterfeiters to let them know we won’t stand by and let our brand be diminished and consumers be potentially hurt by counterfeiters,” he added.
Established in 1957 and known for its stylish, weather-resistant and premium-priced outwear, Canada Goose has long been a target of counterfeiters. However, Spreekmeester said it “just went crazy” about three years ago – coinciding with both the rise in popularity of the brand and increased consumer adoption of online shopping.
Spreekmeester believes the latter is a key contributor to a general rise in counterfeiting. “As consumers have become more comfortable with online shopping, they’ve let their guard down a little bit,” he said. “It’s become so much part of our lives that people are just quicker to jump into something that seems like a good opportunity and throw down their credit card. They’re not doing the same due diligence they once did.”
Indeed, a Google search for “cheap Canada Goose jackets” turned up a raft of websites offering jackets that retail for as much as $800 for less than half that price. Marketing entered the URL for four of these sites into the Canada Goose site’s counterfeit section and each one – including one proclaiming “100% quality guarantee” – was found to be unauthorized by the company.
Canada Goose has made what Spreekmeester described as “significant investments” in anti-counterfeiting measures in recent years. Every jacket and accessory now features a hologram in its seam, while the Canada Goose website features a dedicated section where consumers can enter the URL of a website claiming to sell Canada Goose products in order to validate its authenticity.
The company sends what Spreekmeester characterized as “hundreds of thousands” of cease and desist letters each year, and works with a global network of firms to snuff out rogue websites and fake products.
The company tested three counterfeit jackets last year, two of which were found to have “absolutely no trace” of goose down in them. Instead, they were filled with “feather mulch,” and other fillers that can be coated with bacteria, fungus or mildew, the company said.. The hood trim on the coats made by the Swedish counterfeiters consisted of raccoon and dog fur, rather than the coyote fur used by Canada Goose.
The company has been steadily building its anti-counterfeit measures over the past three years and today spends what Spreekmeester said is “well in the six figures” – an amount that increases annually – to protect itself from counterfeiters.
“The counterfeiting issue escalated in a hurry and we reacted as quickly as we could,” he said. “For the last three years, it’s a budget I had to deal with from seemingly nowhere.”
While Spreekmeester wouldn’t divulge the dollar cost of counterfeiting, he said the negative impact on the Canada Goose brand can be significant. “We believe the popularity of our brand will allow us to take a public stand and draw some attention to the counterfeit issue,” said Spreekmeester. “Our fight isn’t just about Canada Goose, it’s about protecting consumers.”