Canadian iPhone App Dispute

A Montreal company has been hit with a cease-and-desist letter over its launch of an iPhone app that helps users find the city’s “Bixi bikes”. Bixi is the public-use bicycle system in downtown Montreal. Bixi (contrary to some reports) is not a registered trade-mark, though an application for registration has been filed.

There are many iPhone apps which permit users to schedule or locate public services, such as STM mobile (designed for the Montreal transit system), not to mention similar public transit apps for cities all over the world. Apps which locate private companies are also common, such as apps which pinpoint Starbucks, Tim Horton’s and TD bank locations.

It would be interesting to hear the court’s view on whether the use of Bixi in this form constitutes trade-mark infringement, but the letter appears to have worked. The app site now contains a French-language notice that says “We understand that it was an error (made in good faith) to use the trade-mark Bixi. We hope to work with Stationnement de MontrĂ©al and Bixi to find a solution that will respond to your needs.”
Calgary – 13:45 MST

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