Canada: The intersection between the Precious Metals Marking Act and the Trademarks Act in Canada: marking of precious metal articles

Last Updated: June 2 2016
Article by Nelson Godfrey

Dealers in jewellery and other articles made from precious metals commonly use standardized indications of quality, called "quality marks" in some countries and "hallmarks" in others, to readily indicate to consumers and regulators that the article is a precious metal article having the claimed attributes. By way of the Precious Metals Marking Act ("PMMA"), such quality marks are regulated in Canada to provide for the uniform description and quality marking of precious metal articles and to help ensure that articles are not marked in any manner that is misleading or deceptive.  

While the PMMA is not a new piece of legislation, the Act and its regulations are actively enforced by the Competition Bureau.  Recently, on April 13, 2016, the Competition Bureau issued a report on the results of a so-called "blitz" at major department and chain stores in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, whereby inspectors of the Competition Bureau tested almost 1000 pieces of jewellery to determine whether they comply with the requirements set forth in the PMMA and its Regulations. While only sixteen of the almost 1000 pieces of jewellery tested during the "blitz" were identified as problematic, the issuance of the report suggests that the Competition Bureau continues to monitor the marketplace to promote and ensure compliance with the PMMA.

The PMMA and "quality marks"

The PMMA deals broadly with the permitted marking of "precious metal articles", which are generally defined as articles of merchandise wholly or partly, or purporting to be wholly or partly, composed of a precious metal. "Precious metal", in turn, means gold, palladium, platinum, silver and any alloy of those metals and any other metal prescribed by Regulations. While the PMMA does not mandate that precious metal articles must be marked for quality, the statute does prohibit any manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, retailer or other person who deals in precious metal articles from applying to an article a mark indicating that it is a precious metal article (or importing into Canada any article of merchandise so marked), except as authorized by the PMMA.

The PMMA and its Regulations provide detailed guidelines on permitted quality marks and the standards that articles must meet before they may be marked with quality marks (including permissible tolerances and ranges).

Where a quality mark is applied to a precious metal article, a registered or applied for trademark must also be applied to the precious metal article

In regulating the marking of precious metal articles, the PMMA intersects in an interesting manner with the Trademarks Act, a statute with a fundamentally similar purpose.

From the perspective of trademark law, the key provision of the PMMA is section 4(3), which specifies that where a "quality mark" is applied to a precious metal article, the article must also have applied to it a registered trademark or a mark in respect of which an application for registration that is acceptable to the Minister has been filed in accordance with the Trademarks Act. Subsection 5(2) of the Precious Metals Marking Regulations provides that where a quality mark is stamped, engraved or imprinted on a precious metal article, the trademark must be applied to the article by the same method as the quality mark.

The PMMA provides exceptions to the "trademark marking" requirement of section 4(3) where a precious metal article is hallmarked in accordance with the laws of the United Kingdom or has applied to it by a foreign government a mark that indicates the quality of the precious metal under the laws of that country. Interestingly, the language of section 4(3) relating to an applied-for trademark (i.e., a mark "in respect of which an application for registration that is acceptable to the Minister has been filed") is not found in the Trademarks Act and is not used by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This language of the PMMA has not been judicially considered. The Competition Bureau's 'Guide to the Precious Metals Marking Act and Regulations' states simply that the article must bear "a trade-mark that has either been applied for or registered with the Registrar of Trade-marks in Canada". Presumably, such an application should at a minimum comply with the formalities requirements of the Trademarks Act and be designated as "Formalized" by the Formalities Section of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, in order to comply with section 4(3) of the PMMA.   

Violations and penalties

The statute specifies that any person who fails to comply with or contravenes a provision of the PMMA, including by applying to a precious metal article a mark not authorized by the PMMA, omitting or neglecting to apply to a precious metal article any mark required by the PMMA, or selling or importing into Canada a precious metal article that is marked otherwise than in accordance with the PMMA, is guilty of an offence and may be fined. Perhaps more concerning for importers, wholesalers, retailers and other dealers of jewellery or other precious metal articles, the statute provides that every article that is found to violate the PMMA will be broken down and every part of any such article forfeited to the Crown.

Concluding comments

Given the potentially significant penalties that may be imposed under the PMMA upon importers, wholesalers, retailers or other dealers of jewellery or other precious metal articles that violate or do not comply with the PMMA, it is important that those who deal in such articles carefully tailor their business practices to comply with the PMMA, including by ensuring that a registered or properly applied-for trademark has been applied to any precious metal article marked with a quality mark.

For further information regarding this topic, please contact a member of our firm's Trademarks group.

The preceding is intended as a timely update on Canadian intellectual property and technology law. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. To obtain such advice, please communicate with our offices directly.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Nelson Godfrey
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions