Intellectual Property Control

There is growing debate (and some misinformation) about the control by private interests over the very essence of language and thought in our society.  For example, some of the analysis over the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act (which came into force in December, 2007) has suggested that anyone uttering the number “2010” in the same breath as “gold medal” will be subject to sanction at the hands of VANOC, the defenders of the Olympic brand.  VANOC has tried to explain its approach to infringement assessment to manage this issue. They seem to be applying an even-handed analysis to enforcement, although I’m sure someone will find a way to test the bounds of that law.

Similarly, the current interest in copyright reform in Canada is fuelled by a perception that giving private companies increased protection over copyright will result in a privatization of language and culture itself. 

A recent article in the Toronto Star is a case in point.  The article makes some good arguments but Canada’s intellectual property laws do not prevent someone from using the phrase “freedom of expression” just because someone has registered that slogan as a trade-mark. Infringement involves an analysis of the use of a mark in association with certain goods or services which are the subject of the trade-mark registration. 

The law should engage in a balancing act between competing interests.  Let’s hope that the current groundswell of public interest in intellectual property law will help lawmakers reach that balance.


Calgary – 10:10 MST

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1 Comment so far

  1. Richard Stobbe March 10th, 2008 10:32 am

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