Injunction for Trademark Infringement: Québec
In Solutions Abilis Inc. v. Groupe Alithis Inc., the Québec Superior Court granted the plaintiff an interlocutory injunction precluding the defendant from using ALITHIS as part of its corporate name or trade name or as a trademark. The test for an interlocutory injunction in Québec turns on whether the rights which the plaintiff invokes are clear, doubtful or non-existent. If those rights are clear an injunction should be granted if serious harm would otherwise result. If those rights are doubtful the court must also consider the balance of convenience. This test is similar, although not identical, to the test used in the common law provinces where the courts must consider whether there is a serious issue to be tried, irreparable harm and the balance of conclusive irreparable harm.
After setting out the test the Court then considered the plaintiff’s trademark rights, starting from the premise that trademarks are a guarantee of origin and intended to protect the public by indicating the source of the goods and services. The Court then focused on whether there was confusion, finding that the plaintiff’s marks,
were inherently distinctive, since the included word, ABILIS, was a coined term with 3 syllables that created a strong sonority – “ab-il-is” and because of the use and position of the “it” and “ti” symbols in the marks. The defendant’s mark,
also used 3 syllables and a symbol.
The length of time also favoured the plaintiff and the nature of the trade was similar, namely computer consulting services. The Court was not willing to accept the defendants’ argument that persons purchasing computer services would take time to determine the source, noting that initial interest confusion was sufficient and might, among other things, result in the plaintiff not being invited to bid for a potential customer’s work. The Court was also convinced there was a sufficient degree of resemblance, referencing a number of Québec cases where the degree of resemblance led to a finding of confusion even where the goods or services were different.
Since the likelihood of confusion was clear, a loss of goodwill and clientele were presumed and therefore the injunction was granted. A decision regarding the balance of convenience was not necessary, but the Court noted, in the event of an appeal, that it favoured the plaintiff, particularly given the shorter period of time the defendants had been in the market.