A Private Members Bill was introduced in Canada’s federal parliament yesterday, which, if passed, will result in significant amendments to the official mark provisions in the Trademarks Act. Section 9(1)(n)(iii) of that Act currently sets out a very simple procedure whereby public authorities can attain official mark status for virtually any mark that they have adopted and used. Once attained, official mark status prevents other parties from adopting, using or registering the same or a very similar mark in association with any wares (goods) or services, unless the public authority consents. Under the current Act, official mark requests cannot be opposed, there is no specified term or renewal process for such status and there is no process for expunging an official mark if it is no longer in use, unless the public authority voluntarily abandons that status.
Bill C-611 would, if passed, add a definition of public authority to the Act and set out an opposition procedure for third parties to challenge official mark requests. It would also provide for a 10 term for such status, with the ability to renew for further 10 year periods, each of which could also be opposed.
Time will tell if this Bill gains any traction. The Member who introduced the Bill is with the minority Liberal party. This Bill is unrelated to the wide ranging changes to the Act that are set out in Bill C-31.