Canadian Olympic Committee in Unfair
Competition Dispute with US Clothing Company. From our friend Lucas S. Michels (an attorney with Ironmark Law Group PLLC, and master of the IP Exporter weblog) comes this news from the chilly terrain of Canada:
Toronto-based newspaper The Globe and Mail reported this week that the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is threatening to take legal action against US outdoor clothing manufacturer The North Face, over its unauthorized use of a logo associated with the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. The COC took issue with the logo “RU 14,” referencing Russia 2014, that was included on Canadian-themed jackets that are a part of The North Face’s International Collection.Quoted as being a part of The North Face’s “ambush marketing” in relation to the Sochi Games, the Canadian jacket’s suggestive connection with the upcoming games through the logo has unfair competition implications. RU 14 is not a registered trade mark in Canada. Yet its inclusion in the jacket suggests that the jacket is somehow affiliated with the 2014 Sochi Games. The North Face, which is owned by VF Outdoor, Inc., is not an affiliated partner of the COC or the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This may give either party grounds for unfair competition claims under Canadian law. Section 7(b) of the Trade-marks Act, states thatNo person shall direct public attention to his wares, services or business in such a way as to cause or be likely to cause confusion in Canada, at the time he commenced so to direct attention to them, between his wares, services or business and the wares, services or business of another.
Although not mentioned in the news story, the International Collection’s jackets also have unfair competition implications in the US. The Collection also includes a US-themed jacket with the same RU 14 logo. As in Canada, RU 14 is not a registered trade mark at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Based on these facts, it remains possible that the American Olympic Committee could similarly seek an unfair competition claim in the US against The North Face as 15 U.S.C. § 1125 provides similar legal protections. Despite the possibility of such claims, it was reported that the COC wants to settle their legal dispute with The North Face without going to Court.
Around the weblogs. Who bears the burden of proof in the US, in declaratory non-infringement proceedings? The patentee of course -- or is it really so easy? Stefano Barazza talks us through Medtronic v Mirowski in this PatLit post. Over on the 1709 Blog, there's another characteristically engaging CopyKat post from Ben Challis, plus a little bit of value-added comment on the UK's coming legislative reforms in the copyright field from John Enser. Finally, recent guest Kat Laetitia Lagarde offers some useful thoughts on the MARQUES Class 46 weblog on a so-far unsuccessful attempt by Novartis to register the word mark CARE TO CARE for care-related services.
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A spot of deregulation: where one blocking power is enough. From Joshy Thomas (LexisNexis) comes the observation that copyright owners in the United Kingdom are using site-blocking powers under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, section 97A, to take action against infringing websites, for which reason the Government has indicated that it will not enforce section 17 of the Digital Economy Act 2010: that's the provision which allows for the passing of regulations that would force internet service providers to disconnect their customers if copyright owners could show that a subscriber was using their account to infringe copyright. Bearing this in mind, Joshy notes, today -- buried deep within the Deregulation Bill 2014 -- is the following provision (effective two months from the Act’s commencement date)
27 Repeal of power to make provision for blocking injunctions
In the Digital Economy Act 2010, omit sections 17 and 18 (which confer power on the Secretary of State to make regulations about the granting by courts of injunctions requiring the blocking of websites that infringe copyright).The IPKat notes that this is, verbatim, the text of Clause 26 of an earlier version of the Deregulation Bill which he noted last September. Thanks, Joshy, for getting in touch!