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Friday, 26 September 2008

O Canada


The Canadian Press reports that the organisers of the 2010 Olympic Games have applied to register two lines of the Canadian national anthem as trade mark: "with glowing hearts" and "des plus brilliants exploits". The two lines of the anthem, which is out of copyright, have been adopted as slogans for Canada's hosting of the games in 2010. Canada has already passed legislation to protect words which wouldn't normally qualify for trade mark protection, such as 'winter'.

As the article points out, the trade mark would only be able to be used to crack down on traders selling Olympic merchandise, rather than people actually singing the national anthem.

The IPKat notes that problems related to overlaps in IP protection involving trade marks normally involve product shapes, not words, so this throws up different potential problems. Surely here there are good grounds for objecting to even a limited taking out of the public domain of elements of Canada's cultural heritage? As a general principle, the IPKat doesn't really understand why the Olympics are treated as such a special case for being granted extra protection. Do they really differ that much from other commercial sporting events?

2 comments:

Gobhicks said...

I know another song about Canada. It's from "Southpark: Bigger, Longer, Uncut". It's still in copyright, but I'd love to see Parker and Stone try to register its title as a TM in Canada anyway...

Howard Knopf said...

Far be it from me to defend the overly zealous Vancouver Olympic IP effort, but actually, it was a "normal" trade-mark application based on OHIM priority. However, it does have an abnormally absurd list of wares and services. See:

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/app/cipo/trademarks/search/viewTrademark.do;jsessionid=00000m8sfIjmN_knNO8u8vnr_MD:1247nfca5?language=eng&fileNumber=1410532&extension=0&startingDocumentIndexOnPage=1

It's the incongruous wares and services that include automobiles, diesel fuel, circuit breakers and pages and pages of other seemingly random stuff that might raise eye brows and cat fur.

As for taking of public domain phrases for use as a trade-mark, I don't see a problem in principle.

If someone decided to sell cat food under the trade-mark RULE BRITANNIA, that might be silly from a business standpoint and Tufty might turn up his nose and not eat it but it would be quite acceptable from a TM law standpoint I would think. (I hope there’s no prior user out there).

Howard Knopf

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