Famous marks don’t get wide ambit of protection

The Supreme Court of Canada has rendered two other intellectual property decisions.  This time, both concern the protection of famous trademarks, i.e. Barbie, the doll vs. the Montreal restaurants; and Veuve Clicquot, the champagne vs. the clothing stores.  Final answer: trademarks are used and protected in association with wares and services, and famous trademarks do not get monopoly over the use of the marks in the whole marketplace.  The fact that a mark is famous would be one of the surrounding circumstances to be considered in the s. 6(5) confusion test, but famous-ness alone does not override the other factors of confusion.  No confusion?  No problem.  Sweet!

Canadian artists on copyright

Ok, since our in-house blogger is busy with international affairs lately, let me quickly mention that a few Canadian artists have formed Canadian Music Creators Coalition to explain their views on Internet music downloading and met with Heritage and Industry Canada to express their concerns over legislative proposals that would facilitate lawsuits against music fans or increase the labels’ control over the enjoyment of music.  Music lables do not represent musicians’ interest apparently, but that of their shareholders.  Really? Oh well, guess that’s what happens when you sell your soul to the stock market. :p

Tariff 22 at SCS : Canadian ISPs No Royalties Due

The Supreme Court of Canada had the last word on the Tariff 22 case today: Canadian ISPs who are merely providing the internet connection to users do not owe any royalties to composers and performers for music downloaded. Read the decision here and the news here and here.

BTW, congrats and have fun Seek! Will miss you this side of the ocean!

The Art of Describing a Cup Holder

Ever wonder what progress of science lies behind those brownish badly cut recycle piece of half-a-decent-ring cardboard that coffeee shops use as cup holder for your very warm coffee? Well, I took a look at the ones used by Second Cup (patent of 1995) and Starbucks (patent of 1993). One emphasizes on the value of using an interlocking sheet of pressed paper with « multiple nubbins and depressions » while the other focuses on its environmental friendliness as opposed to the « traditional » materials used such as polystyrene. Both press on the insulation value of the holder. Who knew that so much thought was put into creating the claims piece of recycle paper! And I thought that it was just a step up from using a napkin to hold your hot cup of coffee!

Canadian sites you should visit among others…

Go to Lex Informatica for your dose of Canadian information technology law updates.

And the Toronto Star mentions CanFLI, the Canadian File-Sharing Legal Information Network, a website dedicated to informing the public « about Canadian copyright law, privacy law, and the procedure of civil actions ». They are also coordinating legal support for the 29 people IP addresses named by CRIA in its lawsuits against Canadian music uploaders.

« Let me say what I think your problem is… »

Those were the words from Judge Noonan of the 9th Circuit while listening to the oral argument from one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Cary Ramos, in the MGM v. Groskter case. The judge seemed annoyed by Ramos’ continuous use of « abusive language », using words like « pirating, stealing, trafficking, counterfeit and theft » to describe the Grokster network. Ha! For anyone interested in listening to the full version, EFF has it on their site. (The juicy quote is at the 25th minute of the file. If you have an hour, it’s worth a listen. EFF’s Fred von Lohmann’s argument was very smooth and well delivered.)

Summary – Private Copying 2003-2004

Well, it’s been more than a month since the Copyright Board came out with its decision Private Copying III. For the sake of simplicity and to make future reference to the decision easier, I am putting up a little summary of the decision for those who are interested in its general content. We are bound to hear A LOT on it in the following months, so I thought that a summary would be helpful in any future discussions.

One aspect of this decision struck me in particular. The majority of the Board seems to have based much of the justifications for maintaining status quo of the current levy rates on the grounds of “uncertainties”. In fact, one has the feeling that the many of the rates established in the tariff was done by a lack of information. Very shaky ground I would say. For example, the Board agreed that individual consumers might use CD-Rs more than CD-RWs for the purpose of recording music, thus it would make sense to establish two different rates for these two media. However, the Board is “unable to update the valuation model” due to “uncertainties surrounding important figures”. Yet, this same kind of “uncertainty” didn’t stop the majority of the Board (agreed by the dissident) from assigning some rather poorly justified and “out there” levy rates to non-removable memories embedded in digital audio recorders. Another example would be the Board’s view on the effects of the black market (illegal) and the grey market (legal personal imports of blank music recording media from foreign suppliers). In response to arguments that higher levy rate might encourage smuggling and the prosperity of a black market (though without concrete evidence) and in fear of destabilizing the blank media market, “the best the Board can do is to proceed with caution. Keeping the rates at their current levels should avoid these pitfalls.” It’s a cry for help for intervention from a higher force!

Update: Retailers, device manufacturers and CPCC are all challenging the Copyright Board’s decision. There is no way out of this one!

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