Whether strolling down Canal Street in New York City or searching for a bargain on Craigslist, many consumers have come across seemingly authentic luxury goods at a fraction of the original cost. As the saying goes, “if it is too good to be true, it likely is”. The knock-off Chanel purse or fake Beats by Dre headphones may look and feel real, but they are often made with inferior materials and break down relatively quickly. As such, counterfeit products that are passed-off as real can affect consumer confidence in both the primary and resale markets.
While many consumers have flocked to Apple computers and devices, the legal community continues to lag behind due to the unavailability of equivalent legal and office software, and a general unwillingness to change.
Under the Trade-Marks Act (“Act”), registrants must “use” their trade-mark or risk expungement (losing their registration). Under Section 4 of the Act, use is essentially deemed to include use on the packaging/marketing of wares at the time of transfer and when it is displayed and advertised in the performance of services, whether by the registrant or a licensee under Section 50 of the Act.
The purpose of this is to ensure that the Trade-Mark Registrar is clean from trade-marks that have fallen into disuse. It is not the intention of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to allow registrants to “hold onto” trade-marks.
It has never been easier for disgruntled consumers, ex-employees, ex-spouses and competitors to publicly air their grievances to a large audience. It is becoming increasingly common for the angry and scorned to take to the web to anonymously vent. However, what happens when these anonymous posts are untrue and can harm the reputation of their targets?
While online defamation law is still emerging, victims of the potentially defamatory statements will need to determine the identity of the poster in order to bring an action against the poster personally.
Many companies utilize an incorrect procedure of hiring employees. An employment contract comes into existence at the point when the candidate is offered and accepts a job (with the consideration being the promise of pay). Therefore, if a company meets with a candidate and offers a job on a handshake and requests that the candidate “fill out the paperwork”, an “invisible contract” or “verbal contract” may exist prior to the execution of the written employment agreement. Therefore, the terms on the written employment agreement may become unenforceable.
A trade-mark is a word or marking that is intended to distinguish the wares or services of one business from those of others. Typically a trade-mark is a word, design or combination of these elements. However, certain “distinguishing guises” (uniquely shaped goods or containers) and sounds can be trade-marked.
To keep a competitive advantage, businesses may maintain the secrecy of valuable information that cannot otherwise be protected by intellectual property rights. Trade secrets may include ideas, formulas, designs, methodologies, processes, financial matters, pricing policies, business plans, salaries or other compilations of information. To be considered a trade secret, the information must be used in business, not be known to the public, must confer some benefit to its holder and must be the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.
In Canada, trade secrets or confidential information that cannot be otherwise protected by intellectual property rights (such as patents or copyright) can be protected by a duty of confidence recognized by common law. The recipient of a trade secret or confidential information is under a duty of confidence when that person received notice, or has agreed, that the information is confidential. To evidence this notice or agreement, businesses should mark all confidential information as such and require that all recipients of confidential information enter into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) prior to disclosure. A non-disclosure agreement (also referred to as a confidentiality agreement) is a written agreement where one party agrees to disclose confidential information on the condition that the other party limits their use and any further disclosure of the information to preserve the confidential nature of the information disclosed. Implementing non-disclosure agreements may be necessary when obtaining funding from investors or working with manufacturers, designers, distributors, consultants and independent contracts. Despite a tendency to use “standard” agreements, non-disclosure agreements should be tailored to the particular circumstances of each matter.
In Part 1 of my Knowledge Management Series, I outlined the issues associated with organizing and storing documents by using file folders on a networked shared drive. There are several potential solutions that would help alleviate these concerns. Each solution’s effectiveness may depend on the size of the firm/organization and how well it is implemented.
After several unsuccessful attempts to update the Copyright Act to deal with modern technology concerns, Bill C-11 “An Act to Amend the Copyright Act” (also known as the Copyright Modernization Act) received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012.
In an effort to align Canadian law with International Treaties, the Copyright Modernization Act balances the rights of both copyright holders and users.
This is the first in a series of posts, where I will discuss the benefits of maintaining efficient and resourceful knowledge management systems. Stay tuned to learn about the benefits of document management, task management, creating a precedent database, document assembly and other solutions to help the organization and efficiency of your practice.
For law firms and legal departments, maintaining organized files is of the utmost importance. In previous generations, this was primarily accomplished by having filing cabinets which contained organized files in accordion folders (perhaps sorted by area of law or file type), each of which contained many sub-folders to separate document types such as correspondence, drafts, research, agreements, etc.
While this organizational method seemed to be sufficient in the past, our continued reliance on electronic documents and e-mails has made an electronic system a must for any law firm or legal department.