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

Canada’s Trademark Opposition Practice Changing Again?

In case you missed it: the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has commenced a public consultation session concerning possible changes in practice before the Trademark Opposition Board.

These proposed changes follow on the heels of – and are likely motivated by – changes introduced to Opposition Board practice last fall. Many practitioners were surprised by those changes, and found frustration in some of the ambiguities contained in that Practice Notice, issued nearly a year ago.

The newly proposed Notice appears designed to remedy these problems: it provides greater clarity with respect to the number of available extensions and the possible duration thereof, and offers extensive guidance concerning the nature of the “exceptional circumstances” required to obtain an extension at certain stages of a proceeding. Read more

Amendment to Trade-marks Act: the Red Crystal Comes to Canada

Though normally a somewhat staid corner of trademark law, prohibited marks have garnered a lot of attention of late particularly as a result of the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, which we commented on in several previous posts. However, the Trade-marks Act itself has been recently amended to add a new entrant to the list of prohibited marks.

Bill C-61, titled “An Act to amend the Geneva Conventions Act, An Act to incorporate the Canadian Red Cross Society and the Trade-marks Act” came into force on January 31, 2008. This Act was introduced to account for recent changes in the Red Cross Movement the term used to refer to work performed by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Over the last decade, efforts have been underway to find a single symbol devoid of any religious, political, ethnic or other connotation that could be used by all nations engaged in the Movement’s humanitarian work. The Red Crystal is the result, and the Trade-marks Act has now been amended to add the Red Crystal to the list of marks whose adoption is prohibited by section 9. The Red Crystal joins the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and the now little-used Red Lion and Sun in the list of emblems that have been used by a variety of nations in humanitarian efforts over the last several centuries, and that are now protected by section 9 of the Act.

The addition of this mark to the prohibited list will be sure to catch the eye of video-game developers several of whom raised the ire of the Canadian Red Cross years ago by depicting the familiar Red Cross emblem in their games. But gamers aren’t the only ones attracting legal trouble from use of the Red Cross emblem: in 2007 the American arm of the Movement found itself in hot water when it was sued by Johnson & Johnson over its licensing of the emblem to for-profit companies to be used on commercial products, notwithstanding that the licensing revenues it received were directed toward humanitarian aid projects.

We’ll keep you posted on developments related to the Red Crystal.

Olympic Trademark Legislation Closer to Becoming Law

Following up on an earlier story regarding the unique aspects of Bill C-47, we note that the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, has now received Royal Assent. We understand that the legislation has not yet come into force by order of the Governor in Council, as required by section 15 of the Act, and that regulations are contemplated.

While similar legislation has been enacted in other Olympic host countries in recent years, the removal of the normal requirement that the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee or the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (“VANOC”) prove irreparable harm in order to obtain an injunction has certainly raised some eyebrows in the legal community.

The controversy noted earlier continues, as evidenced in an article in the Globe and Mail, “Olympics Bill Toughens Trademark Muscle“.