30 March 2007

What is language? (II)

Nothing to do with the New Yorker, but this deserves noting. In Canada you can now be sued for using the words "friend," "top," and "winter," among many others, in an advertisement. Unless, that is, you are a sponsor of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Bill Cooper, the commercial-rights director of the 2010 Organizing Committee, says that the organizers aren't trying trying to stifle debate.

"We owe it to Canadian athletes and the Canadian public to police the brand, and we take that very seriously," he says.

I'm glad my 'you'd better police the brand' letters to VANOC aren't falling on deaf ears. Oddly, though, my application to a communications position did.

Other words that will fetch you a phone call from a lawyer:
  • See You in Vancouver
  • See You in Whistler
  • See You in Beijing
  • Let the Dreams Begin
  • Sea To Sky
  • 2010
  • '10
  • We're Next
  • Road to Beijing
  • Driven by Nature
  • Road to Vancouver
  • Driven by Dreams
  • Celebrate the Impossible
  • Vancouver '10
  • Gold Medal
  • Game Plan
  • 2000
  • 2002
  • '00
  • '02
  • It's Our Time To Shine
  • For The Fire Within
As Michael Geist reasons, even a balanced implementation of this law still represents an extreme example of special interest legislation. Myself, I'm just looking forward to having a Coca-Cola, shutting up, and watching some luge.

Classmate Emily is keeping an eye on the run-up to the Games: check her out.

(Alf, please skip.)


Anonymous said...

The Vancouver Olympics 2010 can bite my @ss.

Section 9(n)(iii) of the Trade-marks Act is long abused provision permitting any "public authority" to simply give notice that it has adopted and used a trade-mark and - presto - it becomes protected.

First, the scope of those who are considered a public authority expands every year. Section 9 was intended to protect against people using the official symbols of Canada's federal, provincial and municipal governments and those of other countries with which Canada is a member of certain international treaties. Now, bodies such as lottery corporations, religious organizations, universities, charities, and even the CBC, are considered public authorities.

Second, a public authority mark is entitled to protection without any scrutiny from the trade-marks office. As a result, marks that would not otherwise be entitled to protection, for example if they were descriptive, become protected under section 9. That leads to tremendous abuse. There are presently 20,000 such marks on the register.

The various Olympic associations currently have 545 of these marks protected in this way. These include marks such as “Toronto 2008”, which remains protected today. From my perspective, the federal government should be reducing these rights, not enacting more rights.

Anonymous said...

Besides the nasty big brother aspect of this, and the government being in bed with business instead of the individual, this made me think. (!)

I assume the intent is to ensure the marks are exclusive, in order to accentuate the benefits of becoming an official sponsor, and therefore commanding a higher price for same. If so, then is it reasonable that the law wouldn’t apply to critics, in that it doesn’t benefit them to use those marks?

If the reason is economic from a marketing standpoint, should the law then apply to companies or persons using the marks to advertise, to sell their own products? Are critics selling a product? Does traffic increase because they use those marks?

I guess you could start a blog to criticize the Olympics, and then you’d have to do it without using the marks, or else become an “Official Critic of the 2010 Vancouver Games”?

Anonymous said...

..and if i recall, one of the driving factors in the Olympic (used without permission, bite me) bid process is that having the Olympics stimulates the local economy.....unless the local economy wishes to actually acknowledge that the Olympics are occuring to take advantage of that premise, which is illegal.

Land of the Free my ass...wait, that's further south.