Canadian Trademark Law and “Use” in the Computer and Internet Age
Auteur(e)(s) : David Bowden and Junyi Chen
Technological advancements have radically changed the manner in which goods are sold and services are offered to the public. However, Parliament has made no substantive changes to the definition of “use” under the Canadian Trade-marks Act since 1953. Those who operate in the field of computer technology and who offer goods and services primarily through the Internet face particular challenges when protecting or asserting their trademarks. This article examines recent decisions that illustrate attempts by the courts and the Trade-marks Opposition Board to address these challenges—in particular, recent decisions that address the effect of changing
delivery methods for software on trademark use, whether use occurs in website metatags and advertising keywords, and the geographical location in which use occurs for a trademark displayed on a website. Although the law remains unsettled in some areas (such as metatags and advertising keywords), courts have flexibly applied the law to allow for non-traditional delivery of goods and services while preserving the fundamental importance of the concept of “use” under the Act.