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Archive for the ‘Intellectual Property’ Columns

Obituary Piracy Assessed

Thomson v. Afterlife Network Inc., 2019 FC 545, is a Federal Court decision in which the Court considers the existence of copyright in obituaries used in an e-commerce context.

DT was the representative plaintiff in a class action lawsuit claiming that posted obituaries and photographs, that were authored and taken by the plaintiff and other class members without their permission and thereby Afterlife infringed the copyright and the moral rights of the class members.

Afterlife operated a website that contained over a million obituaries in Canada and on which Afterlife reproduced obituaries and photos from the websites of Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Registering Documents With CIPO

A frequent interaction with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office is the registering of documents ‎against pending or granted patents and trademarks. Assignments of intellectual property rights, changes of corporate ‎name, reorganizations and security interests are all commonly registered. As part of changes expected ‎later this year, this practice is likely to change, reducing some formalities.

For the approximately 23,000 patents granted in 2018, around 20,000 of these types of documents ‎were registered. With a government fee of $100 per document, around $2 million in government fees ‎were paid to register various documents against the granted patents. ‎

‎Currently, for patents, . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Applying the Logic of Intellectual Property Incentives Outside the Law

One common interpretation of intellectual property law is that it is not so much about protecting a creator’s natural law property rights (as is the case with bicycles and beachfront properties). Rather, intellectual property law is about motivating individuals to create and invent for the benefit of all. It has been carefully structured and revised over the years, by this reading, to spur on individual and corporate investment in fostering and consuming novelty. In the eighteenth century, when intellectual property took its modern legislative form, the intent was boldly declared to be the encouragement of learning and to promote the . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Alberta’s Whistleblower Legislation

In 2018, Alberta amended its whistleblower protection legislation. It is a modest improvement over previous legislation, and relative to the federal Act. However, in a number of respects, the legislation does not go far enough.

First, a little bit of context. Whistleblowing legislation serves two inter-related purposes: upholding the public interest in exposing serious wrongdoing, while protecting employees who blow the whistle on that wrongdoing. On this last point, the legislation is remedial by protecting the employee from dismissal or reprisal that might otherwise be permitted at common law. In Canada, whistleblowing legislation (which exists in most provinces) . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Calling for Greater Public Accountability in Big Pharma‘s Patent Collaborations

My beat on SLAW.ca is typically, if not all too predictably, the copyright trials and tribulations of scholarly communication. I’d be the first to admit that matters of access to this body of knowledge are relatively straightforward compared to what takes place next door with patent licensing, especially when pharmaceuticals are involved. Still, such patents disputes, which often involve government, university, and industry, can shed light on my interests in legal reforms that restore some part of intellectual property law’s original intent to promote the progress of science and encourage learning for the benefit of all.

This has led me . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Digital Intermediaries Can Be Responsible for Unknown CASL Violations– New CRTC Guidance on S. 9 Anti-Spam Compliance

Canada’s Anti-spam law (CASL) is ambiguous and very onerous to comply with. The Parliamentary INDU Committee, that studied the law, has made numerous recommendations in order to provide needed clarity to the law. In December 2017 their report stated “The Act and its regulations require clarifications to reduce the cost of compliance and better focus enforcement.” The Government has responded confirming they intended to act on the recommendations.

While we wait for that certainty the CRTC has issued a further Guidance document, Guidelines on the Commission’s approach to section 9 of Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL), Compliance and Enforcement Information . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Marketing

For Want of a Distinction: The Copyright Act and the York University Appeal

A year ago in this blog, I addressed York University’s appeal of the federal court’s decision against its clams to “fair dealing” in its instructors’ reproduction of course materials in Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (CCLA) v. York University. I am returning to this case, even as the appeal proceeds, because I’ve begun to think that it reveals the extent to which the Copyright Act is currently unable to serve both party’s legitimate rights and interests.

Judge Michael L. Phelan’s ruling in the original case, rendered July 12, 2017, denied York’s claim that the copying of materials by instructors . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing

Patent File Wrapper Estoppel Comes to Canada

In a move that surprised many in the IP community, a budget bill that received royal assent before the holidays, introduced file wrapper estoppel to Canadian patent law.

Bill C-86 (link) included a number of changes to intellectual property legislation including enacting the College of Patent Agents and Trade-mark Agents Act, reforming the Copyright Board, and numerous amendments to the Patent Act, Trade-marks Act and Copyright Act.

One of the changes to the Patent Act, allows for the patent file wrapper or file history to be used to rebut claim construction of a patent. The file wrapper refers . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

New 2018 Cost of Data Breaches Study Released

An important resource for those who study the impact of data breaches is updated for 2018. The 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study: A Global Overview was released by Ponemon Institute, LLC.

The Ponemon Study covers numerous countries and includes a continuing focus on Canada. Some Canadian statistics show the financial impact of data breaches.

Globally, Canada has the highest direct costs from a breach at $81 USD per record including such items as engaging forensic experts, specialist law firm assistance, purchase of identity protection services and the like. Also Canada had the second highest indirect costs at $116 USD . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

USMCA – More IP Changes Coming to Canada

In early October, the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States announced the USMCA trade agreement to replace NAFTA. The agreement anticipates several changes relating to intellectual property touching on copyright, patents, data protection, trade secrets and anti-counterfeiting.

Some of the changes have been controversial and seen as significant concessions by Canada to the United States. One article in the Financial Post, was titled, “Canada ‘caved’ on intellectual property provisions in USMCA trade deal, experts say”. Jim Balsillie, who has been vocal on innovation in Canada, was quoted in a statement as saying that, “Provisions in this . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Cyber Security – Loss Due to Social Engineering Attack Covered Under Insurance Policy

As the number and sophistication of social engineering attacks increases, victims are examining their insurance policies to see if they are covered. In The Brick Warehouse LP v. Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, 2017 ABQB 413, and in Taylor & Lieberman v. Federal Insurance Company, 2017 WL 929211 (March 9, 2017 9th Cir.), fraudulent emails, as part of a social engineering attack, were sent to company employees who acted on them transferring money from the insured’s account. In both cases courts held that coverage under the Fund Transfer Fraud policy was denied as the victim knew or consented to . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement: A Call for a Little Give and Take

After much Trump-inspired drama over Canada’s participation in his new North American trade accord, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was issued on September 30, 2018 (with final ratification by the three countries still pending at this point). While there is much ado about cheese, milk, and automobiles to it, intellectual property rights also figures prominently in the agreement. Its intellectual property provisions seek “the promotion of technological innovation… to the mutual advantage of producers and users… [in] a balance of rights and obligations.” While this would seem to make it all about patent regulation, it also allows for a need . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property, Legal Publishing