Free iPhone Bike App Sparks Dispute

The Montreal Gazette and La Presse each recently reported on the decision by the Stationnement de Montréal (“SdM”) to assert intellectual property rights against the developer of an iPhone application which pinpoints the locations of public-use bicycles made available for rental by the SdM.

Sparko.ca developed a free iPhone application called BixiMobile, together with a supporting webpage located at www.biximobile.com, to assist online users with finding Bixi bike locations throughout Montreal. The application launched on Sunday; by Tuesday, Sparko had received a cease-and-desist letter from Stationnement de Montréal’s counsel directing the company to withdraw the application, and hand over the domain.  Perhaps more interestingly, it appears SdM have additionally directed Sparko to hand over the code that supports the iPhone application. Read more

Yee Shall Seek… Declaratory Judgment

Updating our previous post on the ROYAL CHINET trademark, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in CKF Inc v. Huhtamaki Americas Inc. has confirmed “that declaratory relief is specifically available in the context of intellectual property disputes”, notwithstanding that such relief is not expressly provided for in the applicable act. In this case, the Plaintiff launched an action in Nova Scotia seeking, among other things, a declaratory judgment that it as an unconditional owner of certain trademarks in Canada. The Defendant, which commenced its own actions against CKF with respect to the same trademarks in Ontario and Maine, applied to strike CKF’s action on several bases, including that the Court could not grant CKF the declaratory relief it was seeking.

Finding that it had inherent jurisdiction to make the declaratory judgment sought, and that the declaration was not purely “hypothetical” or “speculative” since it related to an actual dispute between parties, and was practically necessary for the resolution of this dispute, the Court refused the Defendant’s application to strike.

Second MP Falls Victim to Cybersquatter

We note an interesting development relating to our recent post on domain name squatting, Cybersquatter Targets MP Keith Ashfield. The Toronto Sun reports that Liberal whip Rodger Cuzner also let his domain name registration lapse, and was surprised to discover that his previously owned domain is now home to a dating and porn website.

This emphasizes once again the need for public personalities (including politicians), as well as trade-mark owners, to diligently manage their online presence.

Psion’s NETBOOK Trademark Under Fire

The dispute over Psion’s NETBOOK trademark registrations has crept further into the mainstream, following recent decisions by Dell and Intel to take legal action against Psion in the US.

For those of you who missed it, Psion is a mobile computing device manufacturer whose head office is located in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Psion holds registrations for the trade-mark NETBOOK in Canada, the US, in Singapore, Hong Kong and in the CTM system.

In December, Psion sent letters to manufacturers and retailers in an attempt to “affirm” its NETBOOK trademarks. To this end, the letters requested the recipients to stop using NETBOOK to describe ultra-portable laptop computers.  Psion followed up with similar correspondence to journalists and bloggers in January. Read more

Cybersquatter Targets MP Keith Ashfield

CBC News reported recently that Conservative MP Keith Ashfield registered the domain name keithashfield.ca during the 2008 election.  When Mr. Ashfield failed to renew the registration, it was quickly scooped up by an apparent cybersquatter.  Cybersquatters (as they are commonly known), often register famous names or trade-marks in order to benefit from the associated goodwill to drive traffic to their websites.  Often these websites are “pay-per-click” sites which generate revenue for the cybersquatter.

The website now resolves to a site offering details on how to get prescription drugs without a prescription.  Exactly who holds the domain name is unclear, as this information has been privacy protected by the registrar, Namespro Solutions Inc., at the request of the owner. Under the current CIRA privacy policy, personal information of owners who are individuals is permitted to be cloaked, even if the domain name links to a commercial site. Read more

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.