On December 31st, while many readers (and writers!) of the Canadian Trademark Blog were likely raising a glass to celebrate the New Year, long-awaited amendments to the Canadian Trade-marks Act quietly came into force. The changes pertain to Section 11.1 of the Act which deals with geographic indications. In particular, the amendments eliminated several terms from a list of wine names that had been deemed generic, and accordingly available for use by anyone, in Canada.
The amendments were motivated by an agreement struck in 2003 between the Canadian government and the European Community concerning trade in wine and spirits. Under the terms of that deal, the Canadian government agreed to amend the Trade-marks Act to gradually eliminate the use of certain European wine and spirit names on Canadian labels, thereby opening the door to European producers to apply for the protection of these names as geographical indications in Canada. Read more