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.

One point of clarification: the CBC report states that Green Shift Inc. registered the mark GREEN SHIFT in 2003. According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office online trademarks database, Green Shift Inc. only applied to register the mark GREEN SHIFT in 2005 and that application was just recently approved for advertisement in the Trademarks Journal at which time that application may become subject to Opposition proceedings.

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