In a decision that could significantly impact rights-holders in the media and entertainment industries, the Federal Court has suggested that book titles are, prima facie, not properly registrable as trademarks in Canada.
In Drolet v. Stiftung Gralsbotchaft (2009 FC 17) the court was tasked with considering a range of copyright and trademark issues. The litigants were all involved in the Grail Message movement—a religious movement centred around a series of writings prepared in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. The plaintiff sought to expunge the defendant’s Canadian trademark registrations pertaining to the title of a book central to the movement for reasons relating to descriptiveness.
First applying the conventional analysis proscribed under s. 12(1)(b) of the Trade-marks Act (the “Act”) to determine if the mark was “clearly descriptive”, the court concluded the mark did not meet this test, as the title did not convey to a consumer a clear indication of the book’s contents or subject matter. However, writing for the court Mr. Justice de Montigny went on to assert: Read more