Trade-marks Act Amendments: Put Down That Glass of Canadian Burgundy!

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

Copyright? Wrong! Oshawa Councillor Misses the “Mark”

An Oshawa, Ontario Regional Councillor, Robert Lutczyk, recently made a brazen attempt to claim copyright in the name “University of Ontario Institute of Technology”. Lutczyk registered copyright in the name of the University and then tried to use his registration to prevent the publication "Oshawa This Week" from using the name in an article, threatening legal action if they did not comply. Lutczyk’s attempt to assert copyright appears wrong on several points.

First, there is no copyright in a name. Copyright in Canada is governed by the Copyright Act and arises in literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works. A name, without more, does not fall under the definition of a work. Read more

Canada™: Second Best?

Continuing on with the recent spate of brand rankings we’ve commented upon recently, news that Canada has been rated the second best global brand in the 2008 FutureBrand Country Brand Index. The Index purports to be a comprehensive study, combining the views of 2,700 business and leisure travelers from nine countries together with expert opinions and relevant statistics to determine the world’s brightest country-brands.

The winners? For the third year in a row, Australia. The United States was nipping at Canada’s heels to finish third, with Italy and Switzerland rounding out the top five.

Review of the report’s various categories suggests that Canada’s second place finish was largely the product of generally consistent rankings across the board, with bright spots to be found in such categories as “Ease of Travel” (where we finished third), “Outdoor Activities and Sports (where we also finished third), “Families” (where we finished first) and “Easiest In Which To Do Business” (where we finished first, just ahead of the US). Read more

Bank Brands Going Bust?

A few weeks ago, we reported on the results of Interbrand’s 2008 Best Global Brands Survey, observing that the survey’s big losers, year-over-year, were financial services companies.

Of course, conditions in that industry have deteriorated significantly since then, so it is no surprise to see that Wachovia Corp. announced a $23.9 billion-dollar quarterly loss earlier today – the largest ever for a bank. And it also comes as no surprise to see that a write-down tied to a loss of goodwill made up a significant part of that loss.

What is notable, however, is the sheer size of that goodwill write-down: set at approximately $18.8 billion dollars, the write-down is more than three times that total value attributed to the Royal Bank of Canada when it was awarded the title of Canada’s most valuable brand in a 2007 Brand Finance study. Read more

Latest Olympics Trademark Dust Up Is Of Anthemic Proportions

A Canadian Press Story today reports that the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (VANOC) has recently filed applications with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) to register the phrases WITH GLOWING HEARTS and DES PLUS BRILLIANTS EXPLOITS as trademarks. These applications are filed based on proposed use in Canada in association with a lengthy shopping list of goods and services. They also claim priority from earlier filed European Community Trademark (CTM) applications, filed with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) in March of 2008. Interestingly, the CTM applications are filed in the name of Filemot Technology Law Ltd. and not VANOC.

Canadian readers will immediately recognize WITH GLOWING HEARTS and DES PLUS BRILLIANTS EXPLOITS as phrases from “O Canada”, the Canadian national anthem. Copyright buffs out there might already know that the anthem was long ago placed in the public domain by the Government of Canada pursuant to the National Anthem Act. Read more

Making Room On The Brandwagon

Here at the Canadian Trade-mark Blog, our first-ever post focused on Interbrand’s 2006 Best Global Brands Survey. As we’ve tracked the survey over the years, we’ve noted several constants – like COCA-COLA’s stranglehold on the number one spot, the predominance of US-brands in the top 10, and the sparse number of Canadian brands from the top 100.

The 2008 Best Global Brands survey was released last week, and little has changed: COCA-COLA took the top spot again and US-brands continue to dominate the top 10. However, we’re pleased to report that the list now features twice as many Canadian brands as last year.

At number 44 is THOMSON REUTERS – formerly The Thomson Corporation – who engaged in extensive advertising of its new brand following its merger with Reuters Group earlier this year.

Canada’s new addition? Charging in at number 73 is… Read more

Liberals’ Shift To Green Hits Trademark Roadblock

Canada’s federal Liberal Party, the official opposition to the ruling Conservatives, has been sued by a Toronto environmental consulting and supply company called Green Shift Inc. for alleged misappropriation of that company’s corporate name and trademark, GREEN SHIFT. CBC is reporting that the owner of Green Shift Inc. registered the company name in 2001 and is seeking $8.5 million for “general and special damages” and a further $250,000 for aggravated and punitive damages. The lawsuit also seeks a Court injunction to stop the Liberals from using or displaying the words “Green Shift” or any other trademark or domain name that is similar to that used by Green Shift Inc.

Under leader Stephane Dion, the Liberals have made environmental issues a major thrust of their platform for the next election, which "pursuant to fixed date election legislation" will be held on or before October 19, 2009. As a part of their initiative, the Liberals recently launched “The Green Shift”, the details of which are set out at the website www.thegreenshift.ca

Green Shift Inc. claims that it provides consulting services to different governments across Canada, and that in order to continue doing so it needs to be seen as neutral in its political affiliations. The company claims that the Liberals’ adoption of the words “Green Shift” is its causing clients, potential clients and the general public to erroneously conclude that the company has aligned itself with the Liberal party. Read more