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2019 intellectual property year in review

Daniela Bassan

Noteworthy cases

Keatley Surveying Ltd. v. Teranet Inc., 2019 SCC 43

Considering Crown copyright for the first time, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the dismissal of a class action brought by land surveyors in Ontario. The surveyors claimed that their copyright was infringed when Ontario licensed a third party to store and provide electronic copies of  their survey plans registered and deposited at the land registry office. As Halifax partner Daniela Bassan noted in her case comment, “[t]he case turned on the construction of section 12 of the Copyright Act.”

Bell Media Inc. et al v GOLDTV.BIZ, 2019 FC 1432

For the first time in Canada, the Federal Court issued a “site-blocking” order to compel Internet Service Providers to block subscribers from having access to websites containing copyright-infringing content.

Voltage Pictures, LLC v Salna, 2019 FC 1412

The Federal Court of Canada denied certification of a class of respondents who had allegedly violated copyright in certain films by uploading and downloading copies of the films on peer-to-peer websites. The Federal Court found that the applicant movie production companies did not meet the requirements for the “reverse class” to be certified.

Thomson v. Afterlife Network Inc., 2019 FC 545

In an “obituary piracy” class proceeding, the Federal Court awarded $10 million in statutory damages and $10 million in aggravated damages for infringement of 2 million works on the Afterlife website.  The vast archive of obituaries and photographs was created on the website without the consent of the class members who owned the copyright in the works. St. John’s partner Erin Best represented the successful class representative, Dawn Thomson.

Noteworthy legislation

In April 2018, the federal government launched Canada’s Intellectual Property (“IP”) Strategy to “amend key IP laws to ensure that we remove barriers to innovation” and “create an independent body to oversee patent and trademark agents, which will ensure that professional and ethical standards are maintained, and will support the provision of quality advice from IP professionals”.  In 2019 those legislative changes came into force:

Amended Trademarks Act

Significant amendments to the Trademarks Act came into force on June 17, 2019. The changes enable Canada to comply with international treaties in IP as well as modernizing its trademark regime. Changes include:

  • addition of mandatory classes of TM goods and services
  • removal of Declaration of Use prior to TM registration
  • addition of “bad faith” as a ground for TM opposition

New College of Patent and Trademark Agents 

The College of Patent Agents and Trade-mark Agents Act established a new independent regulator of licensed trademark and patent agents in Canada. The legislation sets out the professional competence standards that have to be met by licensees. In August 2019, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the inaugral directors of the College Board which will establish a licensing system to govern the licensees. A transition period between 1-2 years is expected before the College is fully operational.

Noteworthy events

Stewart McKelvey, in partnership with the Women’s Networking Group of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (“IPIC”) co-hosted two national events attended by clients and colleagues:

  • Trailblazers: An Evening to Celebrate Women in Intellectual Property, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, with local ”trailblazer” Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, President of Digital Nova Scotia, being featured.
  • Professional Networking Breakfast featuring RBG – A Documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The documentary served as the backdrop for participants to share experiences as women in IP and STEM related professions.

Stewart McKelvey also sponsored the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival and IEEE Women In Engineering (WIE) Leadership Summit as well as the Harold G. Fox Canadian IP Moot.  Stewart McKelvey lawyers also presented and participated in a number of events, including CBA National IP Day in Ottawa and IPIC’s Annual Conference in Gatineau.


This update is intended for general information only. If you have questions about the above, please contact a member of our Intellectual Property group.

 

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