This post is the first in a series discussing proposed changes to Canadian trademark law.
The Canadian Government dropped a bombshell on the trademark community on March 28, 2014, proposing massive changes to the Canadian Trade-marks Act (the Act), such changes being buried in a budget bill—namely, the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 (Bill C-31). The immediate response from practitioners and other stakeholders in the trademark space was one of consternation: the changes are extensive, and are being introduced with virtually no notice to stakeholders about these changes prior to the introduction of the bill.
According to Federal Government sources, the changes are intended to prepare Canada for accession to the Madrid Protocol, the Nice Agreement and the Singapore Treaty—and Canada has telegraphed its planned accession to these agreements for several years. However, many of the changes required for this purpose were already contained in Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, which is expected to be enacted in the next few months. Bill C-31 contains many other proposed revisions to the Act that go far beyond what is required for accession to the above Treaties, and appear to be directed more at cost cutting for the benefit of the Federal Government.
Rather than simply listing some or all of the proposed changes, we have decided to examine, in some detail, the likely impact of the changes in a series of posts. In this first post, we examine some of the effects that the changes will have on the clearance of trademarks in Canada. In future posts we will examine the anticipated effects of Bill C-31 on Applications for Registration of trademarks in Canada, on Opposition practice, and on post-registration matters. We will attempt to do all of this from the perspective of prospective applicants, current applicants (where applications have been filed prior to Bill C-31 coming into force), existing registrants and other interested parties.