Update on Trade-marks

A few trade-mark stories are worth noting:  Trade-mark Opposition is a process where one brand owner can oppose the trade-mark application of another. Take these two recent examples which illustrate why you need good advice when arguing your case before the Trade-marks Opposition Board (TMOB):

    • PIZZA SPOT vs WHITE SPOT: the owners of the well-known White Spot chain of restaurants opposed the application for the mark PIZZA SPOT for restaurant services, citing its family of 17 registered WHITE SPOT marks; the TMOB decided that PIZZA SPOT would not be confusing with WHITE SPOT for identical services; there is a low degree of distinctiveness for the word SPOT, and so the mark PIZZA SPOT was permitted to proceed (White Spot Limited v. Mazzaruss Inc., 76 C.P.R. (4th) 385 (T.M.O.B.));
    • SEA MILES vs AIR MILES: what appears to be a similar case resulted in the opposite conclusion. The owners of the AIR MILES brand challenged the application for the trade-mark SEA MILES for identical services (travel rewards programs). The AIR MILES owner cited its family of 27 registered AIR MILES marks.  The TMOB concluded there is a high degree of resemblance between the marks, and refused the application for SEA MILES (Air Miles International Trading B.V. v. Sea Miles LLC, 76 C.P.R. (4th) 369 (T.M.O.B.)).

Why the difference? In making their arguments, AIR MILES submitted substantial evidence of use and advertising, and built up their case for their family of “MILES” marks.  In the WHITE SPOT case, the evidence wasn’t clear that there was a family of “SPOT” marks, though evidence was tendered to support the use and advertising of the WHITE SPOT mark.    

An update to our post on the The Great Olympic Sweater Debate: the Cowichan Tribes have reached a settlement with VANOC in a licensing deal that permits sales of genuine Cowichan sweaters in Vancouver alongside the Olympic brand. Although the Cowichan band likely did not have an arguable case under intellectual property law, they did have a good argument in the court of public relations.  A quick resolution attests to VANOC’s desire to avoid negative headlines in the run-up to the games. 

Calgary – 09:00 MST

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