A recent decision of the Canadian Trademarks Opposition Board, Constellation Brands Québec Inc. c Sociedad Vinícola Miguel Torres, S.A., 2016 TMOB 4 (“Miguel Torres”), serves as a reminder of the importance of stating an accurate and supportable date of first use, when claiming use as a basis for registration in Canada.
In Miguel Torres, the Applicant filed an application to register the trademark HEMISFERIO (the “Mark”) for “wines”, claiming use in Canada since at least as early as October 28, 2011. As one of its grounds of opposition, the Opponent alleged that the Applicant had not used the Mark in Canada as of the claimed date of first use.
As support for its claimed date of first use, the key piece of evidence relied upon by the Applicant was an invoice dated October 28, 2011, which purportedly corroborated the date of first use asserted by the Applicant’s affiant. However, the Opposition Board instead agreed with the Opponent’s submission that while the invoice was dated October 28, 2011 and goods were shipped to Canada from Chile on that date, the approximate date of arrival in Canada of those goods was not until January 26, 2012.
Accordingly, because transfer of the property in or possession of the wine bearing the Mark from the Applicant to its Canadian distributors did not take place in Canada until after October 28, 2011, there was no “use” of the Mark in Canada, within the meaning of Section 4(1) of the Trade-marks Act (the “Act”), as of the date of first use claimed in the application. The application was therefore refused.
While we understand that there will no longer be a need to claim a date of first use in trademark applications once the Canadian trademark regime changes (likely in 2018), for the time being, trademark applicants should strive to claim a date of first use that is accurate and, where possible, supported by documentary evidence.