New .CA Whois Policy Now In Place – With A Twist

In a recent post, we reviewed the pending changes to the .CA Whois policy. On June 10, 2008, those changes were implemented. The biggest change is the cloaking of most of the Whois information for individual registrants, regardless of whether the domain names of such registrants are being used for commercial, unlawful or other purposes. In response to concerns of both law enforcement officials and the owners of intellectual property rights, CIRA has also implemented special procedures to permit the disclosure of personal information about individual .CA Registrants, provided various requirements are met.

For intellectual property owners, those requirements are numerous, including that the Requestor must have a good faith “Dispute” (as defined) in process with the Registrant, the Requestor must agree to provide CIRA with whatever supporting documentation CIRA may require from time to time, the Requestor must have attempted to send a message to the Registrant through the Interested Party Contact Procedure no less than 14 days prior to this request with no resolution of the Dispute.

The term “Dispute” is exhaustively defined and requires that a Requestor reasonably believe in good faith that a Registrant’s domain name and/or its content (presumably this reference to content is to content of a website that the domain name in question links to, rather than the content of the domain name itself) infringes the Requestor’s registered Canadian trademark, copyright or patent or registered Canadian (Federal or Provincial) corporate, business or trade name. A Dispute can also involve the use of the Requestor’s personal information without their knowledge or consent to commit identity theft.

CIRA Announces Formal Revisions To Implement New WHOIS Policy

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority has issued a news release announcing revisions to a number of its policies, rules and procedures, which are required to formally implement its new WHOIS Policy. These revisions will become effective on June 10, 2008. As reported in an earlier posting, the changes to the .CA WHOIS Policy will permit individual registrants of .CA domain names to not publicly disclose their WHOIS information.

Round 2 Won By Scotch Whisky Association

As a follow up to earlier postings on the ongoing battle between the Scotch Whisky Association (the “Association”) and the Canadian distillers of GLEN BRETON single malt whisky, the Association is reporting today that it has won its appeal to the Federal Court of Canada.

The Trade-marks Opposition Board denied the Association’s opposition to the application by Glenora Distilleries of Nova Scotia to register the mark GLEN BRETON, on the basis that, in the Opposition Board’s view, Canadians would not be confused by the use of the word GLEN in the mark, such that they would think they were purchasing Scotch Whisky. The Association appealed that decision to the Federal Court.

During the appeal, the Association produced evidence that GLEN BRETON was misdescribed in various retail outlets, newspaper articles, pricelists, menus and websites as a Scotch Whisky and the Federal Court agreed with its submissions that Canadian consumers would likely be confused that they were purchasing a Scotch Whisky when that was not the case.

Stay tuned for Round 3 of this battle, as CBC reports that Glenora Distilleries is already planning to file an appeal of the Federal Court decision.

Our Blogging Team Is Growing

We’re pleased to welcome two new contributors to the Canadian Trademark Blog, namely Niamh Pollak and Jeffrey Vicq.

Niamh was called to the Bar in Ireland in 2004 and more recently in British Columbia. As an associate with Clark Wilson LLP’s Technology and Intellectual Property Practice Group, her practice will focus on trademark and copyright law, domain name disputes, intellectual property licensing and digital media.

Jeffrey recently completed an LLM at the University of Ottawa with a concentration in Law and Technology, before which he practised for a number of years with another Vancouver law firm. He’s a registered Canadian Trademark Agent and his practice at Clark Wilson LLP will focus on intellectual property and privacy law issues, including trademark prosecution, computer hardware and software licensing, distribution, outsourcing, maintenance and purchase contracts.

With two more contributors we hope to be able to deliver more content to our readership.

Best wishes for the holiday season!

City and Mayor Settle Up

In our posting of June 25, 2007 we reported on an application by the Mayor of the City of Vancouver to register the mark ECODENSITY in his own name. The application raised a few eyebrows because on the face of it, the program that the mark related to appeared to be one that the City had funded and it wasn’t clear why the Mayor would be filing an application in his own name rather than in the name of the City.

Following the advertisement of that application, the City of Vancouver Councillor’s Office filed an Opposition. According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office online database, matters seem to finally have been resolved between the City and its Mayor, as the application has now been assigned to the City. As one of our readers has noted, the open question now is whether that application, which was based on proposed use, or any resulting registration will be valid, if in fact the Mayor, as he claimed in a news report at the time, never had the intention to use the mark himself.

Penny For Your Thoughts

The lowly Canadian penny (to be fair, it’s currently worth more than it’s American counterpart) has been the subject of some intense legal discussions lately, according to a recent story in the Globe and Mail. This story highlights the importance of protection for trademarks under both trademark and copyright law in Canada.

 The Royal Canadian Mint has taken issue with the apparently unauthorized use of a Canadian penny design by the City of Toronto as part of an ad campaign which appears on posters on buses and in bus shelters and on bumper stickers and buttons. The campaign is part of the City’s attempt to convince the Federal Government to provide more funding to municipalities, specifically one cent out of every six collected by the Federal Government through the Goods and Services Tax. The penny design is also featured on the City’s Onecentnow.ca webpage

According to the story, the Mint claims ownership of intellectual property rights  in the design of the penny and is demanding that the City stop all use of its design and payment of a licensing fee for past use. While the news story doesn’t get into the legal specifics, the Mint is likely  relying on both copyright and its Official Mark status for the penny design. The Mint caused the Registrar of Trade-marks to publish a notice in the Trade-marks Journal on June 2, 2004, of the Mint’s adoption and use of the penny design as an Official Mark. Once such notice is published, Section 9 of the Trade-marks Act prohibits any other person from adopting, using or registering that mark in connection with a business, as a trademark or otherwise – a very strong form of protection available only to Canadian public authorities – basically government entities and entities over which there is significant ongoing governmental control – and universities. From the article, it appears the City is asserting a defence that it is using the penny design for educational purposes, but it’s not clear that even educational use is permitted under Section 9 without the consent of the owner.

The Mint may also be able to assert its copyright against the City, irrespective of the Official Mark issue, assuming ownership, originality, subject matter, fair dealing and related issues are not a problem. Copyright provides a very different cause of action than trademark – once a copyright protected work is copied, it’s irrelevant to a claim of infringement whether the copy is being used in association with any wares or services.