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New amendments to Trademarks Act will help prevent trademark trolls

Bill C-86, the omnibus legislation introduced by the federal government on October 29, 2018, includes some notable amendments to the Trademarks Act, including amendments that will help prevent trademark “trolls”. The…

Nov 02 2018
trademark and registered trademark image

Trademarks and the Federal Government's IP Strategy

Back in April, the federal government committed $85.3 million over five years “to help Canadian businesses, creators, entrepreneurs and innovators understand, protect and access intellectual property (IP) through a comprehensive IP Strategy.” The thinking is that Canadian businesses, particularly…

Jul 31 2018
Working on Protecting Trademark Rights

Protecting Your Trade-Mark Rights: Police Them or Lose Them

Our friends at Ink Tank posted a great blog the other day about how other businesses can “tread” on your brand – knowingly or not - from “borrowing” distinctive elements of your brand, to unwelcome parodying to blatantly infringing your trade-mark. All of these things can do harm to your…

Sep 03 2017
facebook forum selection
new media

Facebook's forum selection clause ruled unenforceable

The Supreme Court of Canada has released two landmark decisions in recent days relating to territorial commercial interests on the borderless Internet. This post concerns Douez v Facebook, Inc., 2017 SCC 33, a decision that marks an important development for the law of consumer contracts…

Jun 29 2017

Supreme Court 'Equusteks' it to online trademark infringers

This post concerns one of the two recent landmark decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada concerning territorial commercial interests on the borderless Internet. In Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. 2017 SCC 34, the Court confirmed that Canadian courts can grant orders prohibiting…

Jun 29 2017

GOOGLE: Still a trademark

Looking for the city’s most popular restaurant? Google it! Need to confirm a historical fact? Google it! Doubt as to directions? Google it! The act of “googling” has become common place and common parlance when we refer to conducting an online search. The pervasive use of “google” as a verb, rather…

Jun 19 2017

Trademark provisions under the new Cannabis Act

The federal government’s recently tabled Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) – which will legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Canada –will affect, in one way or another, a wide variety of existing regulatory regimes, including those relating to criminal law, health law, employment law, municipal…

Apr 19 2017

Interlocutory injunctions in trademark cases - two recent decisions with different results

February saw two notable decisions from Canadian courts on motions for interlocutory injunctions in trademark infringement cases. The Federal Court’s decision in Sleep Country Canada Inc. v. Sears Canada Inc., 2017 FC 148 (granting the motion) and the Quebec Superior Court’s decision in…

Mar 02 2017

Online Trademark Infringement - The Return of “Initial Interest Confusion”

The doctrine of “initial interest confusion” has again surfaced in Canada, and once again in the context of online advertising, confusing domain names and passing off (common-law trademark infringement). We’ve been tracking the development of this subject over the past couple of years beginning with…

Feb 07 2017

“Fashion Santa” - A Very Seasonal IP Dispute

For two Christmas seasons in a row the chic white-bearded 50-something-year-old model, Paul Mason, has donned designer garb and paraded around Yorkdale mall calling himself “Fashion Santa”. Just as we enter into the festive holiday season, a legal debate is brewing over this dapper Saint Nick that…

Dec 01 2016
new media

New Guidelines for Paid Endorsements and Incentivized Marketing

In a world where businesses are aggressively competing for the attention of consumers, paid online reviews and endorsements are now popular and even commonplace forms of advertisement and promotion. However, this form of paid advertising is, now more than ever, raising questions around bias and lack…

Nov 10 2016
new media

Hand over that domain!

As the e-commerce space becomes ever more crowded, disputes over confusingly similar domain names are becoming ever more common. One issue that has been particularly vexing is whether a court can order the registrant of a domain name who uses it to infringe someone’s trademark to deliver up that domain…

Jun 01 2016

The importance of policing your trademarks: The need to "Strike Back"

I was recently asked by the Toronto Star to comment on Lucasfilm’s decision to serve a charitable organization called Newmindspace with a cease and desist letter demanding that they stop all use of the term “Light Saber” in association with their charitable events. You can see the article and get…

May 06 2016

The ABC’s of Section 6(5)(a)-(e): Back to basics on trademark confusion

In its recent decision in Home Hardware Stores Limited v Benjamin Moore & Co Limited, 2015 FC 1344, the Federal Court has taken us back to the basics of assessing the likelihood of confusion between trademarks and how to apply the relevant factors to consider, as set out under section 6(5)…

Feb 12 2016
new media

Responding to Online Brand and Reputation Attacks

Online threats to commercial reputations are on the rise. These include “attack sites”, “gripe sites” (e.g. RipOff Report), cyber-libel via social media, domain name high-jacking, meta tag high-jacking and defamatory email campaigns. Online brand and reputation attacks are easy and inexpensive to…

Jan 05 2016
new media

Initial interest confusion in Canada: recent developments

Back in April, we wrote about the history in Canada of a U.S. trademark infringement doctrine called “initial interest confusion” – see “A…

Oct 14 2015
new media

Combating Online Infringement, Dilution and Disparagement of Your Brand

You've spent years building goodwill in your business and translating it into your brand name. You've registered your brand name as a trademark which you use as the domain name for your company's website. You've invested many thousands of dollars optimizing your website and using it to promote your…

Sep 08 2015

A brief history of passing off, websites and "initial interest confusion" in Canada

The Federal Court’s recent decision in Red Label Vacations Inc. ( v. 411 Travel Buys Limited (, 2015 FC 19 is the latest…

Apr 17 2015

Use it or lose it: clearing dead wood from the Trademarks Register

What can you do when you want to use or register a trademark that someone else has already registered but who, you suspect, is no longer using it? This was the issue recently facing one of Shift Law’s clients. They had been using the trademark, BROADVIEW, in association with their financial services…

Mar 09 2015

Register your trademarks – There’s never been a better time to do so

There’s never been a better time than now to register your trademarks, like the name of your business, your logo or the brand names for your products or services.   In Canada, registering a trademark means getting it listed on the Register of Trade-marks in the Canadian Intellectual…

Mar 02 2015
Confidential Information

Protecting Confidential Information with the Doctrine of “Inevitable Disclosure”

A recent case from Texas demonstrates how the doctrine of “inevitable disclosure” can prevent departing employees from misappropriating an employer’s trade secrets and other valuable confidential information. In Brink’s Inc. v. Patrick, Case No. 3:14-cv-775-B (N.D. Tex., 6/24/14), the Court…

Jul 31 2014
Confidential Information

Employers, Employees and Confidential Business Information

Recent years have seen an increase in trade secret theft and misappropriation of confidential business information throughout North America. This is probably due to a number of factors, including increased employee mobility, corporate downsizing and the growing recognition of the value and portability…

May 09 2014

Major changes coming to Canadian trademark law

Canada’s Trade-marks Act is about to undergo its most significant amendments since it was first enacted in 1953. Even the spelling of “trade-mark” will change (to “trademark”). Trademark practitioners and their clients should take note of the proposed changes (outlined below) as…

Apr 01 2014
new media

Property in Domain Names: Registration Doesn’t Always Mean Ownership

I recently argued a summary judgment motion on an interesting and somewhat novel issue relating to domain names: can someone other than the registrant of a domain name be its lawful owner - own title in it – where there is no evidence that the domain name was registered in bad faith or that it infringes…

Jan 12 2014
new media

Between thought and expression

The Ontario Superior Court’s recent decision in Rains v. Molea about allegations of copyright infringement in a series of paintings of crumpled paper, is a fun read for an IP lawyer. And…

Aug 26 2013
new media

Domain Names, Passing Off and Trademark Infringement

Registering and using a domain name that is similar to a competitor’s for the sole purpose of redirecting traffic to one’s website is a dirty practice. But like many other internet offenses, it does not always fit within traditional causes of action, including trademark infringement or its common…

Dec 03 2012
Confidential Information

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Confidential Business Information

When it is thought of at all in the context of IP, confidential information is often thought of as things like secret recipes, codes or algorithms – less often as internal business processes, marketing strategies, supplier and customer lists and all that other critical information that a company and…

Sep 04 2012


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