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Big Changes Coming to Canadian Trademark Law

On March 28, 2014, Canada’s Finance Minister Joe Oliver tabled an omnibus budget implementation bill, titled Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1., or Bill C-31.  As has been the habit of this Government, Bill-C-31 makes sweeping changes to nearly 40 pieces of legislation, many of which have tenuous or nonexistent connections to the implementation of the budget. The Trade-marks Act is among the Acts affected by Bill C-31.  Full text of the bill can be found on the Parliamentary Website, and info on the bill’s status can be found here.

The changes to the Trade-marks Act are significant. To name a few, the term of protection for marks will drop from 15 to 10 years, “wares” are now “goods”, and “trade-marks” are now “trademarks”.  Even the title of the Act has changed, dropping the hyphen from “trade-marks”.  Other changes pave the way for implementation of the Madrid Protocol and the Singapore Treaty – Nice classification will be required, for example. The changes are far too extensive to list here.

For present purposes, I won’t comment much on the changes themselves. But I will say that it’s entirely inappropriate and profoundly undemocratic to table amendments of this nature hidden in the pages of a 370+ page “budget implementation bill.” These are changes which will have significant impact on Canadians – we deserve the benefit of deliberation, debate and an open legislative process.

See this post for a summary of some of the more significant changes.

In an effort to better understand the impact of these changes, I have prepared a version of the Trademarks Act as it will look once these changes are incorporated, as well as a comparison document which highlights the changes. I have included only the direct changes to the Trademarks Act made in Bill C-31’s Division 25 – sections 317 through 363. I did not include the Bill C-8 Coordinating Amendments which begin at section 367. And, with apologies to Francophones everywhere,I have only included the English version of the Act since putting this together was a rather tedious exercise.

The document can be found here: Bill-C31-TM_Act-as_amended

The clean version of the Act (as amended) starts at page 2.  The comparison between the amended Act and the current Act starts at page 45.

Please feel free to share copies of this document with anyone who may be interested.

Please let me know if you find any errors.  I created this based on the pre-tabling version of the bill found here:

NOTE THAT:  This document doesn’t include the amendments to S.2 and S. 63(1), which together have the effect of making the Commissioner of Patents also be the Registrar of Trademarks.  These changes were introduced in their own separate division (Division 26 – S. 369-370) of Bill C-31.

…and my apologies for the stray words like “trademark” that appear in front of some sections – looks like those are relics from a search/replace.

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