Sandra Gelsing’s blawg, Now, Why Didn’t I Think of That, has a piece on the tussle between the Canadian Olympic Committee and CAN FUND, a charity raising funds for Olympic athletes. Apparently, the COC claimed a trade mark right to the expressions “See you in Vancouver,” “See you in Torino,” and “See you in Beijing,” all of which CAN FUND felt it owned. The COC played the “public authority” card from s. 9 (“prohibited marks”) of the Trade-marks Act which says,
9. (1) No person shall adopt in connection with a business, as a trade-mark or otherwise, any mark consisting of, or so nearly resembling as to be likely to be mistaken for,
(n) any badge, crest, emblem or mark
(iii) adopted and used by any public authority, in Canada as an official mark for wares or services,
in respect of which the Registrar has, at the request of… the… public authority… given public notice of its adoption and use;
The Federal Court (decision not yet available online) agreed that the COC was a public authority, but said that because they hadn’t used the marks before applying to make them official marks they couldn’t rely on the section. This seems to mean, though I admit I’m not sure, that the CAN FUND gets to retain them as trade-marked terms.
All of which is interesting in and of itself, perhaps. But I’ve pretty much had enough of the imperial spread of IP throughout our ordinary language and our everyday actions. That anyone could claim any legal right whatever in the quotidian phrase “See you in Vancouver” is irritating, to say the least.