June 10, 2014
Brand owners and brand users, be on alert – big changes may be coming to Canada’s trade-marks laws and some of them aren’t pretty. Some of them are really good developments, as well, that will put us in step with international intellectual property law norms, but all of them are going to dramatically alter the way we view trade-mark protection in this country from now on.
This will resonate particularly loudly for businesses in the franchise industry. If you are a franchisor, you need to understand not only how your (old) trade-marks are protected and rights to them enforced, but also how your (new) trade-marks will be applied for and registered in the future. After all, these marks are your notice to the world that you are doing business under them and that they are not available for use in connection with similar products and services. If you are a franchisee, you are likely spending a lot of money to buy into a brand, and name recognition is a big part of that. You certainly want to know that your franchisor has exclusive rights to those marks and that they won’t be vulnerable to modifications as a result of improper use or infringement allegations.
These changes are coming by way of a federal government bill to make major amendments to Canada’s Trade-marks Act to prepare Canada for a likely ratification of a number of international intellectual property treaties, which itself was largely a step towards preparing for a Canada-European Union free trade agreement. While some of the changes are superficial and overdue (e.g. replacing the spelling of “trade-mark” with the more universal “trademark”; replacing the antiquated term “wares” with “goods”), some of the more substantive proposed changes to be aware of are as follows:
The modernization of Canada’s trade-mark laws to better facilitate international commerce and intellectual property protection should be welcomed by the franchise industry. However, certain of these changes may be catastrophic in their implementation and enforcement and will hopefully not be enacted with the balance of the amendments.
Tags: Intellectual Property