More recent entries…



May 13, 2012 @ 21:07:00
Search Trademarks Database
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CIPO offers a very sophisticated trademarks search on its website.

Unfortunately, as with most government websites, the interface is less than user-friendly.

This is why I created my own script that allows you to search for registered trademarks and trademark applications and displays information in a much more visually pleasing way.

Unfortunately, because of how CIPO’s database is designed, my search can only be used for the basic search, not the advanced search.

Feel free to use it. And if you do – please don’t forget to tweet about it!

Categories:Intellectual Property:Trademarks
 Website Updates:New Feature



May 10, 2012 @ 13:48:21
Canada’s Participation in International Treaties on Protection of Intellectual Property
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Canada is not an active participant in international treaties on intellectual property. It is currently a party to only 7 out of 25 treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization: Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Patent Cooperation Treaty, Rome Convention (International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations), Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification, and Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure.

Most notably, Canada is not a party to Madrid Agreement or Madrid Protocol, Nice Agreement, Phonograms Convention, WIPO Copyright Treaty, and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

Below is the list of countries that are a party to 7 or less treaties: Afghanistan, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

With all due respect to India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the other sovereign states on this list – am I the only one who is not overly impressed by the company of the countries that Canada finds itself in?

Of course, there are many underdeveloped countries that have joined many IP-related treaties, so the correlation may not be perfect. But still, does anybody else see the problem with Canada’s participation in intellectual property treaties equal of that of Rwanda?

PS. On September 10, 2012 New Zealand acceded to the Madrid Protocol and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, so it should be removed from this list.

Categories:Intellectual Property:Intellectual Property



May 6, 2012 @ 13:52:18
Not Enough?
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Some coincidences are nothing short of ironic.

On April 26, 2012, RCMP proudly reported on mass seizures of counterfeit goods on World Intellectual Property Day. According to RCMP’s report, the Mounties participated in an INTERPOL-coordinated operation aimed at IP crime. In just two weeks from March 1, 2012 to March 15, 2012, over a thousand interventions were made by police, custom officials, investigators and Intellectual Property crime experts at key locations on land, sea and airport border control points. During the same time, interventions in markets, shops and street vendors were made. In total, over a million items were recovered, and over 200 arrests were made. The total value of the seized counterfeit goods was over CA$7,100,000. The counterfeits included perfume, headphones, apparel, jewelry, handbags, cellular phones and machinery.

At about the same time, USTR (United States Trade Representative) released its 2012 Special 301 Report, where Canada remained on the Priority Watch List along with Algeria, Argentina, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russian federation, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The findings in the Report regarding Canada are as follows:

      Canada remains on the Priority Watch List in 2012, subject to review if Canada enacts longawaited copyright legislation. The Government of Canada has given priority to that legislation. The United States welcomes that prioritization and looks forward to studying the legislation once it is finalized, and will consider, among other things, whether it fully implements the WIPO Internet Treaties, and whether it fully addresses the challenges of piracy over the Internet. The United States also continues to urge Canada to strengthen its border enforcement efforts, including by providing customs officials with ex officio authority to take action against the importation, exportation, and transshipment of pirated or counterfeit goods. The United States 26 remains concerned about the availability of rights of appeal in Canada’s administrative process for reviewing the regulatory approval of pharmaceutical products, as well as limitations in Canada’s trademark regime. The United States looks forward to continuing its close cooperation with Canada on IPR issues, and will continue to work with the Government of Canada to resolve these and other matters.

Not surprisingly, Michael Geist has condemned the report, stating that “[t]he inclusion of Canada on the priority watch list is so lacking in objective analysis as to completely undermine the credibility of the report.” He quotes his submission with Public Knowledge, where he wrote, among other things: “Consequently, rates of infringement in Canada are low and the markets for creative works are expanding.”

The rates of infringement cannot be calculated in isolation from two important factors: what constitutes an infringement and how economically viable it is to enforce copyright in every case. In other words, if every unauthorized use of another’s works falls under one or the other form of exception, then it is only natural that infringement rates will be low. If there is no legal authority allowing copyright owners to go against ISPs for knowingly hosting infringing works, it is only natural that copyright owners do not waste their resources going against each and every individual who downloads these works, thus also contributing to the pink-glasses statistics.

Another reason for lack of the objective standards is the absence of clearly defined philosophy of why we have copyright protection at all. I wrote about it in much detail in my review of William Patry’s book “How to Fix Copyright”. If assessment of IP laws is guided by an elusive “balance” paradigm, then any conclusions may be drawn. It is equally plausible to claim that Canada’s IP laws are fully adequate or that they are completely inadequate.

Going back to the coincidence between the timing of the 301 Report and the RCMP report. One thing is clear. Border measures are crucial in today’s world for efficient enforcement of intellectual property. In this regard, the 301 Report makes perfect sense.

Are there countries where intellectual property is in greater disrespect compared to Canada? Of course! Is this sufficiently good reason to celebrate? Absolutely not!

Categories:Intellectual Property:CopyrightIntellectual Property



May 1, 2012 @ 23:33:31
Shining Star Contest Over
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Some announcements are easier than others.

This one sums up my efforts to organize MLC's first Shining Star Contest for talented children.

I did not receive any submissions, and so no prizes will be awarded.

To rephrase the famous words of Thomas Edison: I have not failed. I've just found my first way not to run a contest.



April 19, 2012 @ 21:11:54
How Not To Fix Copyright - My Response to William Patry
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Of all the IP lawyers I know who are openly advocating for radical changes in the copyright system, William Patry is the only one who is not afraid to dig deep. Instead of founding his arguments upon novel interpretations of some obscure subparagraphs of legislative provisions or dictas in 18th century case law, Patry starts where any meaningful discussion about copyright should start – with the question why, why do we have copyright laws at all.

While I vehemently disagree with his conclusions and proposals, I have tremendous respect for Mr. Patry because, unlike most of those who agree with the substance of his proposals, he openly declares his goals and reasons, not hiding behind some illusory goal of pleasing everybody. It is an honour to have such an opponent in this philosophical debate.

William Patry has recently published his new book, “How to Fix Copyright”. In it he explains why today’s copyright laws make no sense, goes back to the foundations of copyright and asks the inevitable question why, offers an answer to that question and makes several proposals based on that answer.

Ironically, I tend to agree with most of what Patry wrote in his book. A great deal of it is nothing but brilliant and very useful. In fact, I wholeheartedly recommend it to both supporters of “stronger” copyright laws and destroyers of copyright.

As I mentioned, I disagree with Patry’s answer to the why question and, subsequently, to his proposals with respect to how copyright should be fixed. In this review, I will first briefly outline my fundamental disagreements with Mr. Patry and then illustrate them with examples from his book.

 Big problems with Patry’s position

There are several big problems that I see in Patry’s position.

The most important one is that he believes that the reason for existence of copyright laws is to benefit the public the most. I have been saying this for years: copyright laws can only exist for one of two reasons: either they focus on protecting the interests of creators and investors while disregarding the potential consequences for the public; or they focus on protecting the interests of the public while providing to creators and investors the minimal level of protection required to ensure that the public has the most amount of new works to consume.

The idea of balancing these interests is insane, even though it became mainstream. I am well known for comparing it to an attempt to balance the interests of rapists and their victims in a single piece of legislation – it just doesn’t work that way… I will be returning to this metaphor throughout this article. If you feel offended, stop reading.

The reason I respect Patry’s position so much is that he understands that the balance model is nonsensical. The reason I disagree with Patry is that in this resulting dilemma between protecting the public or the creators, he sides with the public.

Patry is in fact advocating for the Soviet model of copyright law where creators had no control over the use of their works and were only entitled to “fair” remuneration. As I wrote in my article, “Copyright and the Great Socialist Degradation”, authors created many great works in the Soviet times. Lack of exclusive right to control the use of one’s works, as Patry rightly notices, does not necessarily cause authors to abstain from creating. The problem with this, of course, is, in the words of Ayn Rand, “the man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave”. By taking away from the copyright owners to right to decide on what terms their works are to be used by the public, we are essentially enslaving them.

Secondly, Patry correctly makes a distinction between what the laws are and what the laws should be (in hid opinion). He understands that in order to get to the a destination, one cannot rely on the laws as they are today. He is not afraid to offer suggestions that go beyond attempts to reinterpret the existing norms. Yes, somehow he draws support from old copyright laws, such as Statute of Anne, when it tends to benefit his position.

I have two issues with this approach. You cannot have it both ways. Either we disregard all existing and past laws in the search of the perfect solution, or we are bound by such existing and past laws. Relying on provisions of the 1710 act as the basis for one’s proposals in 2012 is no more genuine than claiming that whatever laws that are in existence today are the way they should remain for the next 300 years. On the other hand, one should not forget that the Statute of Anne was adopted in the pre-Adam Smith era of capitalism, when individual rights and freedoms meant little and when the laws were but a system of privileges granted to groups and individuals. To look to these laws for guidance as to the fundamental principles of today’s copyright is no more genuine than using slavery laws as the inspiration for today’s employment standards.

Thirdly, while Patry correctly states that law is not the solution to business problems, he at the same time advocates that the new laws he suggests will be a good way to force businesses to adopt “good” business models to replace the awful retrograde business models that copyright owners around the world currently use in reliance on the outdated copyright laws. Again, you cannot have it both ways.

You don’t fix broken business models by stealing from those who attempt to run them. Free markets do a much better job at educating those whose business models are antiquated. As I explained in my article “Failed Business Models of the Past, Eh?”, piracy distorts the markets and prevents businesses relying on traditional copyright models from properly evaluating their viability.

Fourthly, Patry’s proposals are based on the assumption that today’s laws somehow prevent businesses from adopting “good” business models. They don’t. Everyone is free to relinquish control over the use of their works, and many have done so. Just because someone is prepared to give up control does not mean that the right to control should be taken away from others by force. Just because someone may be willing to pay more in taxes does not mean that everybody else should be taxed more. Even is someone (even a great majority) is prepared to sacrifice their firstborns in the name of some “higher” purpose does not mean that those who do not should be forced to do the same.

These are the big points on which we disagree. Below, I will illustrate this with specific examples from Patry’s more…

Categories:Intellectual Property:CopyrightNew Article
 Values:PassionIndividual Rights
Additional Tags:CollectivismPhilosophyFair Dealing
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