A Word from the General Manager - May 2015

May 1, 2015

Brian Isard

 

One behalf of our  Board of Directors we would like to extend a hearty welcome to Scott Geffros who joined us this month as our new Assistant General Manager. Many of you remember Scott from his many years in the industry as General Manager of Kitchener Pallet Services and WoodSave. Learn more about Scott and his plans to strengthen our members services a little further on in this newsletter.

Value of a Trademark

When you operate a legitimate business and you see someone else cheating with nothing being done about it can cause a lot of frustration. We are faced with a potentially similar situation in the Canadian Wood Packaging Certification Program (CWPCP). One of the concerns we hear from companies that are CWPCP registered facilities is that they are seeing other companies who are not registered using fraudulent stamps to certify wood packaging and they are concerned  about what is being done about it.

This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. We have seen it before in our industry where the inability to provide high quality standards has led to markets for our products disappearing. The application of the quality mark tells the user that we have  certified the producing facility to use the IPPC mark and that the product has been produced under the CWPCP quality control program. 

Fraudulent misuse of the quality mark can potentially impact our export markets as it lessens our ability to ensure that Canadian wood packaging is properly certified. Fraudulent stamp misuse also allows these “cheaters” to undercut prices for legitimate certified wood products in the market place.

The CWPCP program management began to investigate this illegitimate activity after we implemented a new Violations Reporting program last year. We identified companies that were using fraudulent stamps and were successful using moral persuasion to change their business practices and get them to join the certification program. However, the bigger issue we face is what can be done from a legal or enforcement perspective. 

Two years ago we identified a serious problem with any enforcement program we had hoped to implement. After consulting with other certification programs we identified that the IPPC stamp used in our current CWPCP certification program had no trademark logo in it such as you see below. Without a trademark logo on the actual stamp it makes going after companies misusing the stamp extremely difficult and virtually impossible to successfully prosecute against in court for trademark infringement.

The CWPCA Packaging Committee, which consists of Simon Trillwood from Topax Export Packaging Systems, Brian Butler from Butler & Baird Ltd, Steve McConkey from Nefab Group and myself along with support from Stephanie Poirier, CWPCP Program Coordinator, and Doug Taylor, CWPCP Lead Inspector, started work on addressing this problem two years ago and have made some progress to report on the steps we are taking to prevent fraudulent stamp misuse.

  • Registration is a fundamental step in protecting a trademark from misuse, and we started the application process over a year ago to register the CWPCA logo as a trademark. 
  • We were notified last month through our lawyers by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office that the CWPCA logo has been successfully trademarked under Canadian Trademark Application No. 1,654,504.  

Trademarks used in a certification program require strong a robust maintenance and security program so we plan to introduce new measures to restrict access to fraudulently manufactured stamps by:

  • Redesigning the current IPPC certification stamp used in the CWPCP program to include the CWPCA logo (see example below. Please note this is just an example of what it could look like) and then control the printing of stamps through a group of approved stamp and digital printing suppliers. 

  • Notifying all CWPCP clients that as they replace their stamps they must convert old stamps over to the new stamp with the CWPCA logo and implement a deadline.
  • Providing a notification to industry of the steps that will be taken to protect against misuse of the trademark and any illegitimate use of the stamp in the manufacturing of certified wood packaging. 

For my money, I have found that one successful prosecution in the courts is a very effective means of discouraging fraudulent activity. Recently, in the US this is exactly what is being done with recent prosecution for the fraudulent stamps applied to hundreds of untreated wood pallets that were sold to other companies for use in product export. You can read more about it by clicking here.

The CWPCA Packaging Committee are taking these steps to strengthen our certification program and coupled with the increased CFIA enforcement powers under the new Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act that was announced last month our association we will have the means to go after the industry “cheats”, prevent fraudulent misuse of the IPPC stamp and protect the legitimate business owners who have invested in becoming certified facilities.

On behalf of the Packaging Committee we would like to hear back from any members on their thoughts on this issue at 

brian.isard@canadianpallets.com or call me at 613-521-6468 / 877-224-3555 Ext.202.

11-1884 Merivale Road, Ottawa, ON, K2G 1E6
T. 613.521.6468 or 1.877.224.3555 F. 613.521.1835 or 866.375.1835
info@canadianpallets.com
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