In Honour of Black Friday – Big Brand Retailers Fight Quebec Language Law

CBC reports that a group of  well-known retailers, including  WALMART, COSTCO and BESTBUY, are taking the Quebec Government’s French language watchdog to Court over its recent requirement that all retailers have signs that include either a generic French name or add a slogan or explanation to reflect what they are selling.  For example, rather than featuring signage with just the well-known WALMART mark, the Quebec government wants that retailer’s signs to now read “Le Magasin WALMART” or something to that effect.

While Quebec’s French Language Charter requires the name of a business to be in French, until now this requirement hasn’t been applied to registered trademarks by the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF).  There has been some debate over the last few years about whether unregistered trademarks should be treated the same as registered trademarks in terms of this exemption.  The OQLF is now requiring all signs to include French language, whether or not registered or unregistered trademarks are involved.

For their part, the retailers (also including GAP, OLD NAVY and GUESS) argue that there has been no formal change to the applicable provision of the language law.  Further, they argue that the OQLF has no right to change the application of the existing law and that by changing its policy, it is in effect changing the law.  The retailers also point out that these are all famous brands and through extensive long term use they have come to identify the businesses behind them, such that no one in Quebec needs the assistance of the language law to know what these businesses sell or represent.

Some other popular brand owners, such as KFC or “Poulet Frit Kentucky” as it’s known in Quebec, have already opted to adopt Quebec specific branding, rather than carry on with an English business name.

A trial of this matter is unlikely to take place before the end of 2013.

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The Big Reveal – ICANN Announces List of new gTLD applicants and applications

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) posted the list of new gTLD applicants and applications today.  ICANN received a total of 1,930 new gTLD applications.

Many companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Wal-Mart filed applications.  Among the Canadian applicants are Rogers (for .FIDO and .CHATR), Shaw Cablesystems (for Shaw) and the registrar Tucows (for .GROUP, .MARKETING, .MEDIA and .ONLINE).

The applications will now be evaluated by the expert panels selected by ICANN and the initial results are expected to be released in December 2012 or January 2013.  There will be a testing phase for the new domains that are approved and ICANN expects that new domains will not go live until mid-2013.

Today also marks the opening of a 60-day comment period, during which anyone may submit comments on any application for the evaluation panels to consider.  As well, if anyone believes they have grounds to formally object to an application, there is a seven month period during which they may file an objection.

Trade-mark and business owners should review the list of new gTLD applications to consider if they want to submit comments or file an objection during the period for doing so. 

Trade-mark owners should also monitor the status of the Trademark Clearinghouse services.  The Trademark Clearinghouse will serve as a repository for information regarding trademarks to be authenticated and validated by the service provider selected by ICANN – Deloitte Enterprise Risk Services.  All new gTLD registries will be required to use data from the Clearinghouse to ensure that trademark rights protection mechanisms are implemented during a new gTLD start-up period.

All in all, this marks a historic day for the domain name landscape and the beginning of some very interesting and challenging times.

CIRA Announces .CA Registry Upgrade and 24 hour service outage

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) announced that it will be performing a  system update to its .CA registry on June 12, 2012.   In order to complete the upgrade, there will be a 24 hour service outage from 9 a.m. (ET) on June 12 to 9:00 a.m. (ET) on June 13. 

During the service outage, the following Registrant transactions will be impacted:

  • Registrants will not be able to submit new .CA domain registrations
  • Registrants will not be able to approve the CIRA Registrant Agreement
  • Registrants will not be able to update or renew existing .CA domain names
  • WHOIS will not be accessible during the service outage
  • Domain names in the Add Grace Period or the Redemption Grace Period scheduled to expire during the service outage will be extended by 24 hours

CIRA advises that full Registrant transactions are scheduled to return at 9:00 a.m.  (ET) on June 13, 2012.