It's officially time for a change to Canada's official marks regime

By Tariq Remtulla

A new bill sets out proposals to overhaul Canada’s official marks regime. While the bill itself is unlikely to become law, there is a consensus that the official marks regime is in need of significant reform.

Official marks are a unique creature of Canadian trademark law and allow certain non-private sector bodies, known as ‘public authorities’, to obtain special protection for marks that they have adopted and used. Protected under Subparagraph 9(1)(n)(iii) of the Canadian Trademarks Act, official marks can comprise common words or phrases such as ‘engineer’, ‘doctor’, ‘postal code’ and ‘Today’s special’. The rights afforded to owners of official marks are broader than those conferred on trademark owners, since the owner of an official mark obtains exclusivity for all goods and services.

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Issue 72