Copyright in Art … Part 3


Here’s an update to our earlier post (Copyright in Art … Part 2) about the case of photographer Patrick Cariou and appropriation artist Richard Prince. Earlier this year, a US District Court sided with Cariou in his copyright claim against Prince, based on Prince’s use of Cariou’s photographs of Rastafarians. The court dismissed the fair use defence since Prince’s copying was substantial compared with the “slight transformative value”. The New York Times reports that decision has now been granted an appeal (Court Allows Richard Prince to Appeal Copyright Decision) by the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The outcome will be closely watched by artists.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

Intellectual Property in the Digital Age

Richard Stobbe was interviewed by CTV for Intellectual Property in the Digital Age an interesting review of media, privacy, copyright and the concept of “fair dealing”. When you post pictures to Facebook, or other social-media or photo-sharing sites, you don’t give up ownership, but you certainly give up control. The Supreme Court of Canada and the Copyright Act are clear that those who deal fairly with a work for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review or news reporting, do not infringe copyright.  So a reporter engaging in “news reporting” can copy your Facebook photo, and copyright will not be infringed, as long as the attribution rules are followed, and as long as the copying can be considered “fair dealing”.  When it comes to the fair dealing analysis, courts in Canada will look at these factors:

  1. the purpose of the copying and use;
  2. the character of the copying and use;
  3. the amount of the copying;
  4. alternatives to the dealing;
  5. the nature of the work (such as the pircture or other copyright-protected work); and
  6. the effect of the dealing or copying on the work. 

These considerations don’t arise in every fair dealing case, but this list provides a useful framework to analyze when the copying will be considered fair for the purpose of this exception.

    Calgary – 07:00 MDT
No comments

Calgary Event: A Practical Guide to Royalty Rates

On October 27, 2011 the Calgary Chapter of the Licensing Executives Society will be meeting on the topic of: Finding and Analyzing Royalty Rates: A Practical Guide, with David Jarczyk of ktMINE, including a review of the “25% Rule” in technology and patent licensing. For details and registration, please see the linked invitation. Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

Privacy & Freedom of Expression: Alberta Court Says Privacy Law is Unconstitutional

A striking union recorded video of a picket-line outside a casino in Edmonton. Photo and video was then posted online at a union protest site. Three people complained that their personal information had been collected in breach of the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). A decision by the Privacy Commissioner said that the union’s practice breached PIPA. The union appealed and an Alberta court has handed down a surprising decision that some of the privacy restrictions in PIPA are unconstitutional, because they tread on the right to freedom of expression.

In United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401 v. Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2011 ABQB 415 (CanLII) , the court surveyed the law in this area and focussed on two issues:

  • First, what constitutes “publicly available” information? PIPA provides an exception for such information, which is defined in the Regulations and includes such things as information in phone books and directories and records held in public registries. The definition does not cover information that could be collected at public, social or political events. The court decided that this restriction violated the union’s Charter-protected freedom to express itself through video and photos taken at a public political event  
  • The other exception examined by the court is the “journalistic purposes” exception in PIPA.  The union argued that PIPA limits the “journalistic purposes” exception to traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and television and excludes “non-traditional media” such as the union, who collect information for purposes other than journalism. Again, the court decided that this restriction violated the union’s freedom to express itself for purposes that may include journalism and other purposes.

Thus, the court quashed the decision of the Privacy Commissioner, and struck down portions of PIPA as being in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This leaves some holes in PIPA that will have to be plugged by the government. Either they have to appeal the decision (which is likely) or they have to amend the legislation. This one will be interesting to watch since it touches on all kinds of fascinating topics such as a right to privacy in the Facebook era, what is in public sphere, “citizen journalism” and free expression through posting photos and videos online.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

App Take-Down


An app developer in Vancouver has been threatened with a take-down notice by CBC, in connection with his radio-streaming app sold through the Mac App Store.  The CBC has complained of copyright and trade-mark infringement, and Apple has reportedly threatened to pull the app if the developer and the CBC cannot come to an agreement. The dispute raises the classic issues of what constitutes copyright infringement: is an app, a photocopier, or an MP3 player, or a car radio for that matter, a tool which facilitates copyright infringement by allowing the copyright-protected works to be copied without the consent of the owner? Canadian law says …. it depends. In the CCH case , the Supreme Court of Canada reviewed the question of when someone is liable for facilitating or “authorizing” infringement. The court was clear that “authorization” means to approve of the infringement, and concluded “a person does not authorize copyright infringement by authorizing the mere use of equipment (such as photocopiers) that could be used to infringe copyright.”  The mere act of providing the means of infringement is not an act of infringement.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

US Patent Reform: Status Update

To follow on our earlier post (US Patent Update), the America Invents Act (the US patent reform bill) has passed and was signed into law by President Obama on September 16th. Among the changes:

  • Adopting a “first to file” system (from the previous “first to invent” system), which bring U.S. patent law into line with many international patent laws; a one-year grace period is built into the legislation to allow for the transition;
  • Changing some aspects of the test for patentability and the assessment of prior art;
  • The rules regarding confidential sales have been amended – such sales prior to filing of a patent application will not be considered a bar to patentability.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

Canadian Copyright Update


The Federal Tories have made it clear that they intend to re-introduce their copyright reform bill (the bill formerly known as Bill C-32) this fall, with new legislation possible by Christmas. They may want to re-think that timeline and ask Santa to wait on the shiny new copyright law. The Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to weigh in on the subject, with a record five copyright cases scheduled in early December. While the issues in these five appeals will not span all of copyright law, the interpretation and analysis of copyright will undoubtedly impact the proposed legislation.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

Patents: The Basics


In a new series, we review the basics of Canadian trade-mark, copyright and patent law.

  • Canadian Patents: Patents protect inventions, such as a process, machine, manufactured article, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention. Patents provide the patent owner with the right to exclude others from making, selling, or using the patented invention for a period of 20 years from the date of filing. In exchange, the patent owner must fully disclose the invention. To be patentable, the invention must be new (in other words, be the first in the world); it must be useful (functional and operative); and it must be non-obvious (in other words, it shows “inventive ingenuity” and is not obvious to someone skilled in that area).  Abstract ideas, a mathematical formula or algorithm, or scientific principles are not patentable.
  • Best Practices:
    • Non-Dislosure: Any public disclosure of the invention prior to filing can result in loss of patentability. Canada has a 12 month grace period, permitting the filing of a Canadian patent application within one year of disclosure, but this grace period is not available in most countries.
    • Patent Searching:  A patentability search is recommended before the patent application is prepared. The search and opinion will confirm the patentability of the invention, and can provide insight to a patent agent on how to craft the patent application.
    • Provisional Patent: In the US, inventors can file what is known as a “provisional patent application”, and while there is no exact equivalent in Canada, it is possible in Canada to file a simplified form of a patent application, which is often used as a way to quickly secure a filing date. Some inventors fall into the trap of thinking “I’ve got a provisional patent” since an application of this type has been filed. But a provisional will never be examined and will never issue as a patent. Think of this as an incomplete application, since that’s what it is. The provisional or incomplete application must be followed up with a complete application within 12 months in the US, and within 15 months in Canada, after which the patent rights will be lost.  
    • Use a registered patent agent: Even the Canadian Intellectual Property Office warns of unauthorized and incompetent advisors who are not qualified to prosecute patent applications before the patent office. 
  • Patents Outside Canada:  Patent rights are granted country-by-country, so an issued patent in Canada is not enforceable in the United States, for example, without obtaining patent rights in that country.  A patent application must be filed in each country. Canadian inventors can apply for foreign patents from within Canada through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which provides a standardized international filing system. Through the PCT, a Canadian company can access the application process for 142 PCT member countries.
  • Design Patent: See Industrial Design.

For more information and assistance with your patent and intellectual property needs, visit Field’s Intellectual Property & Technology Group. 

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

Cloud Computing in Calgary



Save the date: On November 1 & 2, 2011, the 3rd Cloud Computing Law conference will be held in Calgary, hosted by Federated Press.

Richard Stobbe will be presenting on the topic of risk-allocation in cloud-based services such as iCloud and other enterprise cloud computing contracts, including warranties, indemnification and limitation of liability clauses.  

IT lawyers and in-house counsel from top companies will review:

  • the risks & legal pitfalls of cloud computing
  • legal and compliance issues 
  • the implications of virtual storage on legal jurisdiction questions
  • key issues that need to be addressed when negotiating and drafting a cloud computing agreement  

For registration details: Cloud Computing Law Conference (Calgary) 

Readers of are eligible for a 15% discount – use this code when registering: CCL1111/PR

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

European Community Trade-marks & Designs

Courtesy of Samsung


If you followed the headlines regarding the ongoing battles between Apple and Samsung this summer, you will have noticed that Apple succeeded in shutting down sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab in the EU, based on its allegation that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringed Apple’s industrial design (See: Industrial Design in Canada & US). Samsung succeeded in limiting that court order. That is a battle over the design of the iPad (part of the appeal of Apple’s designs are that they are minimalist and functional, which raises the question of what exactly is protectable… but we’ll leave aside for the moment).

Designs and trademarks are both useful intellectual property tools to ward off competitors. Canadian companies can register their industrial designs in the EU, as well as their trademarks across the EU (through a Community Trade Mark or CTM). In the recent case of DHL Express France SAS v Chronopost SA, Case C-235/09, 12 April 2011, the EU Court of Justice ruled that injunctions to prevent infringement of a CTM can be enforced across the EU. The scope of an injunction against infringement of a CTM extends to all 27 countries of the European Union.

Related Reading: Apple’s worldwide court battles against Samsung: where they stand and what they mean 

For assistance with your international brand protection, including in the US and EU, contact us at Field Law. 

Calgary – 07:00

No comments

Banff Venture Forum


The Banff Venture Forum is in one month: October 6 and 7, with streams focussing on information technology, cleantech and life sciences. This is a well-attended networking event that serves as a showcase for emerging technology companies from across North America. Also see the  Road to Banff Pitch Competition (Alberta).

Calgary – 10:30 MDT 

No comments

App Law Update – Part 3


Are you a Canadian app-developer? One of the most common concerns I hear from my app-developer clients is this: how do you comply with laws around the world when your app is published on the App Store? Not an easy question to answer as these stories show. Here are a few updates from the wonderful world of app-related disputes and litigation:

  • This story notes the importance of reviewing app-related privacy issues: a recent US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement with app-developer W3 Innovations shows that the FTC will be scrutinizing the mobile app market for privacy violations, particularly violation of children’s privacy.  In the US, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is specific privacy legislation that does not have an equivalent in Canada.
  • The Lodsys patent infringement attack against iOS app developers has expanded to target Android developers and (reportedly at least one) BlackBerry app developer (updates here), as well as established game developers, including EA and Atari. Apple has sought to intervene in the case, to argue that their license agreement with Lodsys should shield iOS developers from patent infringement. Google may feel compelled to go to bat for Android developers. Which means Lodsys is locking horns with Apple, Google, RIM and EA.  

Related Reading: When an iPhone App Infringes a Patent 

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments

Update: Online Anonymity

This post ( The Legality of Online Anonymity: Two Cases ), reviews two recent Ontario cases which decide when to order the disclosure of identities in the conext of anonymous online comments. Courts will assess these “Warman” factors in deciding when to order disclosure:

  • whether the anonymous person could have a reasonable expectation of anonymity in the circumstances; 
  • whether the plaintiff could establish a prima facie case against the anonymous person and is acting in good faith;
  • whether the plaintiff has taken reasonable steps to identify the anonymous party and has been unable to do so; and
  • whether the public interests favouring disclosure outweigh the legitimate interests of freedom of expression and right to privacy of the anonymous person.

Related Reading:

Exposing Online Identities: Another Update 

Is a Website Operator Liable for User Comments?

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

No comments