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Supreme Court Rules Against Overbroad Trademark Rights

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Friday June 02, 2006
The Supreme Court of Canada continues to distinguish itself as the leading high court in the world for recognizing the need for balance in intellectual property law matters.  The latest example is this morning's pair of trademark decisions involving Mattel's Barbie trademark and champagne maker Veuve Cliquot.  In both cases, the trademark holder, arguing the fame of its brand, sought to stop small businesses from using the names in unrelated commercial activities (a Barbie restaurant and Cliquot line of clothing stores).  The court ruled against the "famous" trademark holder in both cases, affirming the limits of trademark law that prevent rights holders from claiming a total monopoly for all good and services in their name given that there was limited likelihood of consumer confusion.   The judgments, both written by Justice Binnie, again demonstrate that the court values both the importance of IP protection and the need for limits to such protection.
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