Trade-marks: Guest Post: Proposed Changes to Canada’s Trademark Laws

Guest post by Andrei Mincov (Trademark Factory – reprinted with permission) As many of you know, the Federal Government recently introduced Bill C-31, the Economic Action Plan 2014, No. 1. Among the changes to almost 40 different pieces of legislation, it introduces many significant and long-awaited changes to the Trade-marks Act. In this post, I will outline what they are, and provide my opinion about them, and also comment on why established Canadian law firms are now singing the same old song about dangers of these new changes. The general idea of the changes is to align Canadian trademark laws with the rest of the civilized world. Currently, Canada has a unique system that is unlike every other trademark law on the planet. We are not party to several major international treaties that make it simpler for businesses to protect their brands around the world. What this means is that … read more »

Trade-marks: Guest Post: Major Changes Coming to Canadian Trademark Law

Guest post by John Simpson (Shift Law – reprinted with permission) 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 some will be relevant to trademark selection and prosecution strategy and enforcement decisions that should be made before the changes come into effect. Some of the changes were introduced a year ago with Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. This legislation, among other things, expands the definition of “trademark” in the Trademarks Act to include scents, colours, tastes and textures that – like traditional brand names or logos – are used to distinguish the trade source of goods or services.  More recently, in January 2014, Parliament tabled three international treaties (the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty … read more »

Recent Facebook Changes to Crack Down on “Feed Spam”

April 16, 2014 Facebook recently announced some new changes to combat News Feed spam (see: News Feed FYI: Cleaning Up News Feed Spam).  In making the announcement, Facebook said: “The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them.  Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see. Many of these stories are published by Pages that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would.” According to Facebook, it is targeting three types of spam – namely: “like-baiting” (when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share a post seeking artificial distribution); frequently circulated content (where photos or videos … read more »

Contest Law: “FTC First Shot Across the Bow: Is Your Social Media Contest Next?”

Guest post by Amy Sullivan Cahill (Stites & Harbison PLLC, Louisville KY) False or misleading “likes” or “favourites” have been a topic on my mind recently and one that I have found quite interesting since the recent U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s caution in the Cole Haan Pinterest contest case.  In this interesting case, the U.S. FTC raised a question that has been to date mostly been unsettled – namely where the line is between lively participation in a promotion (e.g., “likes”, “pins”, etc.) and deceptive endorsements (i.e., false or misleading and undisclosed endorsements).  As such, this recent short note by Amy Cahill caught my eye (reprinted with permission). ____________________ FTC First Shot Across the Bow: Is Your Social Media Contest Next? Our 2012 alert, “Like us” On Social Media! An Endorsement Under Advertising Laws? addressed the Federal Trade Commission’s decision on the implication of consumer “Likes” on social media platforms such … read more »

Social Media Contests: New Podcast: “Is Your Social Media Contest Breaking the Law?”

TopDog Social Media has posted a new podcast on social media contests entitled Is Your Social Media Contest Breaking the Law (and thank you TopDog for chatting with me about social media contest laws). Some of the topics discussed in TopDog’s new podcast include: The 5 most common illegal contest mistakes by businesses running contests online and over social media; Apple’s restrictions on giving away iPads & iPhones; one mistake that cost a business $170,000 in fines; two major components to ensuring your social media contest is legal; the basic rules you legally need to include in any contest; some of the legalities surrounding the use of third party materials; a few ways to tell if your advertising may be false or misleading; what you can and can’t legally use information for that you collect in a contest; social networks with the most and least strict policies for contests; some … read more »

Canadian Competition Law Litigation – A Primer

Private parties may commence damages actions under the Competition Act (the “Act”) for violations of the criminal provisions of the Act (under Part VI) or a breach of a court or Competition Tribunal (“Tribunal”) order made under the Act. Competition law private actions in Canada are typically commenced in the context of (i) wholesale or retail customers alleging damages as a result of a conspiracy between suppliers (e.g., a price-fixing conspiracy relating to a product, input, etc.), (ii) consumers alleging damages as a result of misleading advertising claims (e.g., false or misleading claims in relation to a product, investment or other business opportunity, etc.) or (iii) competitors alleging damages based on another party’s (or parties’) violation of the misleading advertising or criminal conspiracy offences under the Act. There have as well been an increasing number of class actions commenced in Canada and both recent amendments to the Act and recent Supreme … read more »

New Books: Canadian Competition Law Developments & Trends in 2013, in CLE BC’s Annual Review of Law & Practice 2014

March 17, 2014 The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia (CLE BC) has published its Annual Review of Law & Practice – 2014.  This summary of major areas of Canadian law applicable in British Columbia includes my co-authored chapter on Canadian competition law developments and trends in 2013. From CLE BC: “Discover the most efficient way to stay informed, with key developments in 34 practice areas.  Each year, lawyers and other readers around the province turn to CLEBC’s Annual Review of Law & Practice to learn about the key developments and trends in British Columbia law. Thriving in its 23rd annual edition, Annual Review provides an easy, affordable, and reliable way to keep its readers on top of the pivotal issues and trends.  The book is bigger and better than before with the introduction last year of the new chapter on “Competition Law”, and now contains 34 chapters packed … read more »

Canadian Court Takes Measured Approach to Imposing $500,000 Civil Fine Against Rogers in Performance Claims Case

February 25, 2014 In an interesting and important decision issued by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on February 21st, the Court has now imposed a $500,000 civil administrative monetary penalty (“AMP”) against Rogers for failing to have performed adequate and proper testing in some Canadian markets for performance claims made in relation to its Chatr Wireless brand (see: Canada (Commissioner of Competition) v. Chatr Wireless Inc., 2014 ONSC 1146). While the liability decision in this case had been issued last summer (for a summary of some of the key points of the case see my earlier post: Rogers Largely Wins Landmark Chatr Misleading Advertising and Performance Claims Case and Canadian Lawyer comment earlier today: Rogers Escapes Steep Fine), the remedies were to be decided at a later date and have now been determined. In deciding to impose a $500,000 AMP in this case, the Court held that Rogers had … read more »

Bank of Canada’s Rules for Reproducing Canadian Bank Notes – Example of a Key Advertising Review Question: “Do We Own It”?

A lot of advertising law, both in Canada and other major jurisdictions, tends to revolve around two major themes: deception and ownership.  As such, when it comes to reviewing advertising for compliance in Canada, a lot of issues (or potential issues) can be identified with two main questions: first, “is it true” (i.e., false or misleading)?; and second, “do we own it”? I’ve written a lot about the first theme here over the past few years (e.g., the false and misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act), but not so much about the second theme.  On the second theme, a small question arose on a recent advertising review for a promotion for one of my clients.  In their draft creative, they were proposing to reproduce images of Canadian currency. While this is not an issue I deal with frequently, I had recalled giving advice on this in the past.  And, … read more »

Alberta Man Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Misleading Advertising, Breach of Court Order Case

When I deliver competition compliance seminars and talk to industry groups, I often discuss the fact that imprisonment is one possible criminal penalty under the Competition Act (though is, somewhat curiously, more commonly imposed for deceptive advertising than for price-fixing or other criminal competition law conduct). While that may soon change with the recent elimination of conditional sentences for cartel offences (e.g., price-fixing and other per se illegal agreements between competitors) and bid-rigging, earlier today the Competition Bureau announced that a Canadian court has once again imposed a prison sentence for misleading advertising. In particular, an Alberta man has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment for being convicted of misleading advertising and breaching a court order (violating a registered consent agreement with the Bureau).  For my original post on this case last June see: Competition Bureau cracks down on advertiser in first criminal breach of registered consent order case. The … read more »