Communication Breakdown: Canadian Quirks to Madrid Trademark Filing System that Foreign Applicants and their Counsel need to know

Canada joining the Madrid international trademark filing system earlier this year came as welcome news to much of the international trademark community. Hidden in that euphoria however, are a couple of Canadian quirks that are likely to trip up unwary applicants and their foreign trademark Counsel.

This Knowledge Bytes article, reviews the limited Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) communications that will be sent to the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) and to foreign representatives of applicants who designate Canada in their applications for international registration. The bottom line is that a resident Canadian trademark agent should be appointed for all such applications, so that important communications from CIPO not go astray or languish, unattended, for an undue period of time.

LIVE is dead in the water – The Federal Court tackles another thorny trademark use decision

In a recent Federal Court Trial Division decision, the trademark registration for LIVE, registered in association with, among other things, hotel, entertainment and advertising services, was expunged for non-use during the relevant three year period.  The Court reviewed a number of conflicting decisions on the use of marks in Canada in the context of non-use cancellation proceedings, where the primary service is performed outside of Canada – for example, the relevant hotel or entertainment establishment is physically located outside Canada – but some ancillary or related aspect of the services could be said to be performed in Canada – for example reservations for the hotel or for tickets to the entertainment venue could be made by Canadians while physically located in Canada.

The Court reiterated that in order for there to be use of a mark in Canada, it is essential that some aspect of the services must be offered directly to Canadians or performed in Canada and that it must be demonstrated that people in Canada obtained “some tangible, meaningful, benefit” from the use of the Mark in association with the registered service.  In expunging the registration, the Court found that “simply holding a reservation for a hotel in the US is not a tangible and meaningful benefit enjoyed in Canada, despite that it may ensure that a room will be available upon arrival.  The tangible benefit occurs only once the person leaves Canada and travels to the US and fulfills the reservation.”  A similar conclusion was arrived at in relation to entertainment services.  The advertising services were not performed for any third party, meaning there was no trademark use.

Barring an appeal, the decision is noteworthy as it appears to be counter to a recent Federal Court decision involving hotel services provided in very similar circumstances.  In this case, the Judge distinguished the earlier decision, on the basis that “Unlike in Hilton, there are no rewards points that can be used in Canada. …Rewards points could not be earned in Canada or redeemed in Canada. There is no evidence of a tangible, meaningful benefit enjoyed in Canada from making an online reservation.

Canadian Trademark eFiling Systems Outage from June 13 to 17, 2019 – What you need to be aware of

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office will be taking its efiling systems for trademarks down from Thursday, June 13, 2019, at 00:00 EDT to Monday, June 17, 2019, at 06:00 EDT, for system upgrades and enhancements.

How does this affect Applicants and owners of  trademark Registrations in Canada?  Among other things, this outage will affect:
• e-Filing of new Trademark Applications;
• Registration of pending Applications; and
• Renewal of existing Registrations

Long awaited and significant changes to Canadian Trademark law – many of which have been previously discussed in this Blog – don’t come into force until June 17, 2019 (the CIF Date).  However, with the above systems outage, anyone hoping to file a new application or to renew an existing registration – with the intent of doing so under the current, lower pricing that is not tied to the number of Nice classes of goods/services covered – will need to do so prior to midnight (EDT) on June 12, 2019.  The same time limit applies to anyone hoping to finalize registration of an allowed application with the intent of obtaining a 15 year term, rather than the 10 year term available for registrations that issue after the CIF Date.

Please contact the author for more information or advice on the above.

No Going Back – Canada Formally Accedes to Singapore, Madrid and Nice Treaties

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has announced that as of March 17, 2019, Canada has formally acceded to the Singapore Treaty, the Madrid Protocol and the Nice Agreement.  All three of these treaties will come into force in Canada on June 17, 2019.

According to CIPO “As of that date, trademark owners in Canada will be able to apply for trademark protection in more than 100 jurisdictions through a single application, in one language, with one set of fees and in one currency.”

June 17, 2019 will also be the coming into force date for numerous other significant changes to Canadian trademark practice.  Please see our recent post which explains some of the most important changes.  These are exciting times for trademark owners and their legal Counsel in Canada!

Delays Nourish Desires: Canada’s New Trademark Laws Come Into Force June 17, 2019

Earlier today, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office announced that long-anticipated amendments to Canada’s trademark laws will come into force on June 17, 2019.  It also published a new set of Trademarks Regulations, which will support those amendments.

First introduced in June of 2014, the amendments contain the most significant changes to Canada’s trademark law in decades, (discussed in earlier posts) including:

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Parliament Tables Proposed Amendments to the Trade-marks Act

On October 29, 2018, the Canadian Parliament tabled, in a surprise to many practitioners, the Budget Implementation Act 2 (Bill C-86), which would amend, among other things, the Patent Act, Trade-marks Act, and Copyright Act. In addition, the bill contains provisions enacting the College of Patent and Trade-mark Agents Act .

Proposed amendments to the Trade-marks Act include adding bad faith as a ground of opposition and expungement; requiring use as a precondition of alleging infringement in some circumstances; adding some restrictions to the term of official marks; giving the Registrar additional powers to govern the process of opposition proceedings; and requiring leave to file additional evidence with the Federal Court on appeal from a decision of the Registrar.

David Bowden

No Hotel in Canada? No Problem – Trademark Owner Maintains Trademark Registration With Hotel Services

The Federal Court of Canada (the “Court”) recently released its decision in Hilton Worldwide Holdings LLP v Miller Thomson, 2018 FC 895. In the decision underlying this appeal, the Registrar expunged the Canadian trademark registration for WALDORF-ASTORIA, owned Hilton Worldwide Holdings LLP (“Hilton”), on the basis of non-use. The Court allowed the appeal, and found that Hilton had proven the requisite use of its trademark in Canada, notwithstanding the fact that it did not operate a physical hotel in Canada.

Under the Canadian Trade-marks Act (the “Act”) a trademark is deemed to be used in association with services if it is “used or displayed in the performance or advertising of those services.” Courts have found that this statutory provision includes a condition that the services themselves must be performed or delivered inside Canada, and the mere advertisement of services in Canada does not constitute use within the meaning of the Act.

For trademarks associated with hotels, the Registrar has interpreted this condition restrictively. The Registrar has issued a number of recent decisions which found that the operation of a “bricks and mortar” hotel in Canada is necessary to establish the use of a trademark for “hotel” or “hotel services” in Canada (see, for instance, Bellagio Limousines v Mirage Resorts Inc, 2012 TMOB 220; Stikeman Elliot LLP v Millennium & Copthorne International Limited, 2017 TMOB 34; and Ridout & Maybee LLP v Sfera 39-E Corp, 2017 TMOB 149).

In contrast to the Registrar’s decisions involving “hotel services”, the Court has increasingly recognized circumstances in which companies operating outside of Canada can establish use of their trademarks in association with services directed to consumers in Canada. In HomeAway.com v Hrdlicka, 2012 FC 1467, the Court held that the appearance of a trademark on a computer screen via a website accessed in Canada, regardless of where the information may have originated from or is stored, constitutes use and advertising of the mark in Canada. The evidence in HomeAway.com also showed that people in Canada used the service at issue to post available rental properties located in Canada, and that these postings were available online to customers in Canada.

In allowing the appeal brought by Hilton, the Court focused on the ordinary understanding of the term “hotel services”, which would include ancillary services, such as reservation and booking services. Because these ancillary services would be included in “hotel services”, the Court found the Registrar erred in equating these services with “the operation of a hotel” – services which can only be performed at a physical hotel location. The ancillary services, in contrast, go beyond the physical “bricks and mortar” hotel, and the evidence showed that Hilton had performed such services in Canada, despite operating a physical hotel in another country.

Moreover, the type of hotel services which can be delivered online had greatly expanded since Hilton’s registration issued. The scope of the registration, according to the Court, must be considered in light of the development in online commerce as it relates to the ordinary commercial understanding of “hotel services.” Technological developments which occurred post-registration meant that Hilton could provide services online to Canadians who benefited from them. This also supported Hilton’s claim that it used the mark in Canada.

The decision forms part of a growing trend of Canadian trademark decisions which recognize that companies based entirely outside of Canada can offer services in Canada, and that the performance of those services will constitute use in Canada of the trademarks associated with such services.

David Bowden