Microsoft Canada Co.

Microsoft Canada Co.

December 05, 2006 06:00 ET

Nearly Half of Canadians Worry About Mistakenly Buying Counterfeit Gifts This Holiday Season

Microsoft Canada survey finds Canadian's top five unacceptable counterfeit products are prescription drugs, automotive parts, electronics, software, and music

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 5, 2006) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available on the CP picture wire via CCNMatthews

From luxury bags, software, and toys, to prescription drugs and electrical parts, 68 per cent of Canadians worry about the growth of counterfeit products in Canada. Microsoft Canada Co. captured Canadians' views on counterfeiting in a national survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid(i) and found 73 per cent of Canadians would rather spend more to ensure that they are purchasing authentic goods versus counterfeit goods this holiday season.

Two decades ago, most fake goods available in Canada were t-shirts and novelty items sold at flea markets. Today counterfeit products can be just about anything and can be found in up-scale shopping malls and retail chains. In addition, the cost of counterfeit products to the Canadian economy is estimated in the billions - losses to the software industry alone is $943 million(ii).

"Trying to keep counterfeit goods out of the country is an ongoing challenge as current Copyright and Custom laws weren't designed to address the range and volume of counterfeit goods crossing the border," says Lorne M. Lipkus, a founding member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, Chair of its Education and Training Committee and Partner in the law firm of Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus LLP. "Canada needs to implement stronger IP laws and better border control systems to prevent counterfeit goods from entering or being sold in Canada - the health and financial risks are just too great."

Although Canadians would rather spend more to buy genuine goods, certain counterfeit products like clothing and designer handbags are seen as more acceptable to purchase vs. prescription drugs, electronics and software. Three quarter of Canadians believe that many Canadians knowingly purchase counterfeit goods because the legal risks are so low. The survey also found that 88 per cent of Canadians believe the government needs to strengthen intellectual property laws to protect consumers and the companies whose products are being counterfeited. In addition, a majority (64%) of Canadians would like to see the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) empowered to proactively target and seize suspected counterfeit goods rather than rely on a court order or assistance from the RCMP.

"The RCMP is committed to working with Canadian law enforcement agencies to take action and counter the threats posed by IP crime," says Superintendent Ken Hansen, Director, RCMP's Federal Enforcement Branch. "However, due to the sheer volume of the problem we also work with copyright holders that monitor the marketplace and take legal civil action against retailers that are involved in counterfeiting their products. "

The threat posed by counterfeit goods to consumer health and safety is undeniable. Some phony goods, such as counterfeit prescription drugs, pose threats to consumer health and others, such as pirated software, can affect day to day activities. Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative worked with IDC(iii) to research and quantify the risks users take when they acquire and install counterfeit software. IDC found that 59 per cent of the key generators and crack tools downloaded from peer-to-peer networks contained either malicious or potentially unwanted software.

"Microsoft believes that intellectual property is the backbone of today's knowledge economy," says Susan Harper, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft Canada. "We see the importance of protecting Microsoft's IP but also protecting consumers. They should get the real thing - not pay close to retail prices and use counterfeit products that could potentially harm their computer and personal files."

For many consumers, spotting the fake can be a challenge due to the level of sophistication of counterfeit goods. A few tips to help consumers avoid buying counterfeit products include:

1. Understand what you are buying - take time to learn more about the products that you are buying and from whom you are buying. Read reviews and talk to colleagues and retailers so that you build a knowledgeable perspective.

2. Check the prices - if the price is too good to be true then it probably is.

3. Look for spelling mistakes on the package or a shoddy appearance.

4. If you are unsure if a product is legitimate - call the manufacturer.

(i) The online poll of 1129 adult Canadians was conducted in November 2006 by Ipsos-Reid.

(ii) The CAAST/BSA-IDC Global Software Piracy Study, May 23, 2006

(iii) IDC study: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/update/wga/default.mspx.

About Microsoft Canada

Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Co. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has 10 regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering people through great software - any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit www.microsoft.ca.

(C)2006 Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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