In the age of the internet and e-commerce, the domain name of a business holds tremendous value and is often an integral part of the identity of a business. Since a website can only have one domain name on the internet, there is no shortage of disputes which arise over ownership rights of domain names, particularly those closely affiliated with a registered or unregistered trademark. What is Cyber-Squatting? Cyber-Squatting occurs when someone has registered a domain name in which they have no legitimate business interest, and can sometimes involve setting up a fake website for a business. The reason could be that the registrant will then seek to sell the domain name to the legitimate owner of the business or trademark, or their competitor for a profit. Alternatively, it may be to syphon away business leads online to competitors for a fee, or for advertising revenues. Typo-Squatting is similar to … Read More
In Dish v. Shava, 2018 ONSC 2867 (CanLII), plaintiffs obtained judgment in Virginia, including an injunction, against the defendants, who were located in Ontario. The plaintiffs then brought an action in Ontario seeking recognition and enforcement of the Virginia judgment and injunction in Ontario. On the motion for summary judgment, the Ontario Court considered whether the Virginia Court had exercised jurisdiction based on the Ontario test for jurisdiction: i.e. whether the defendants had a real and substantial connection with Virginia. The defendants owned and operated an interactive, commercial website through which users purchased TV set-top boxes. The Ontario Court found that the defendants had a real substantial connection to Virginia based on the nature of the business they were operating, specifically: users in Virginia purchased the TV set-top boxes from the defendants’ website. At least 193 customers with a Virginia shipping address purchased Shava TV product from the Defendants’ distributor … Read More
In Paramount v. Johnston, 2018 ONSC 3711 (CanLII), the Ontario Court considered whether to dismiss a defamation claim based on the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) provision of the Court of Justice Act (section 137). We have previously blogged on the new anti-SLAPP provision: see our earlier post “Court Awards Damages to Defendant in Defamation Case”. In Paramount v. Johnston, the plaintiff company operates a number of middle-eastern restaurants. The plaintiff company was owned by the individual plaintiffs. The plaintiff company was hosting a fundraiser organised for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A protest had been organised outside the restaurant to coincide with the fundraiser. The defendants alleged that they attended at the restaurant for the protest. The defendants allegedly defamed the plaintiffs in a total of eight videos taken on the day of the protest. One of the defendants brought a motion to dismiss the claim against him based … Read More
In Haaretz.com v. Goldhar, 2018 SCC 28 (CanLII), the Supreme Court considered whether a defamation claim brought by the plaintiff in Ontario should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or, alternatively, for a more convenient forum. The the plaintiff is a prominent Canadian businessman who owns a large real-estate investment company in Ontario. He also owns a popular professional soccer teams in Israel. He is well known in Israel, maintains a residence there, and travels there every few months. The corporate defendants publish a daily newspaper in Israel in both English and Hebrew, which is distributed in print and online. The newspaper has a distribution of about 70,000 print copies in Israel. The individual defendants are the newspaper’s former sports editor and the author of the allegedly libellous article. The defendants published an article about the plaintiff’s ownership and management of the soccer teams in Israel. The article also referenced … Read More
Since December 17, 1998, United Airlines has been using the website www.united.com, it’s brand name and logo has been used since August 2010, and the design and artwork of the website has stayed relatively the same since 2006 (para 4). United Airlines has a variety of trademarks associated with these services. Cooperstock operated www.untied.com and in 2011 he redesigned the graphics, in a manner similar to the design of the United Website, which was adjusted in 2012 to match changes made by United on their website in 2012 (though with a sad-face added on the United logo for example) (para 10). In United Airlines, Inc. v. Cooperstock, the Court found that Cooperstock infringed United’s trademarks. Trademark infringement occurs when “a trademark or a confusingly similar mark [is used], without the consent of the trademark rights holder, in association with wares or services” (para 29). This case provides an interesting decision regarding the specific element of infringement under … Read More
The very interconnectedness of the Internet that drives business forward through marketing and access to broader consumer bases may result in loses that currently are not easily remedied. However, jurisprudential shifts are occurring to bridge gaps in the common law that are prevalent in the new age of technology. Google v. Equustek Solutions is a recent decision that potentially expands the scope of interlocutory injunctions in order to ensure that trademark passing-off does not continue to be facilitated, even if unintentionally, by a non-party. Equustek was entitled to an interlocutory injunction to enjoin Google from displaying Datalink’s websites on any of its search results worldwide, and despite Google’s appeal, the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in a 7-2 decision. Justice Abella, writing for the majority, emphasized the importance of deference and discretion with regards to interlocutory injunctions, which is highly context-driven to ensure just and equitable outcomes (para 22). The Court found the three-part test in RJR – MacDonald … Read More
In Walsh Energy Inc. v. Better Business Bureau of Ottawa-Hull Incorporated, 2018 ONCA 383, the Court of Appeal considered a defamation claim against the Better Business Bureau (“BBB”). The plaintiff company had failed to respond to a customer complaint using the BBB protocol, and did not resolve the complaint independently. The BBB changed changed the plaintiff’s rating on its website from “satisfactory” to “unsatisfactory”. About a year later, the BBB adopted a new ratings system, and assigned the plaintiff a “grade” of D-. The plaintiff brought a claim against the BBB in defamation, alleging that the D- grade caused it substantial damages. On appeal, the Court of Appeal considered (1) whether the D- grade was defamatory, and (2) whether the publication was protected by the defence of fair comment. In respect of (1), the Court stated that the trial judge was wrong to only consider whether the D- grade was … Read More
In Zigomanis v. 2156775 Ontario Inc. (D’Angelo Brands), 2018 ONCA 116 (CanLII), the Defendant entered into a promotional contract with the Plaintiff, who was at the time a professional hockey player. The contract contained a “morals clause”, stating that the Defendant could terminate the contract if the Plaintiff “commits any act which shocks, insults, or offends the community, or which has the effect of ridiculing public morals and decency.” The Defendant terminated the contract for an alleged breach of the morals clause: specifically, unknown persons published nude photographs of the Plaintiff on the internet. The photos had originally been sent by the Plaintiff to his girlfriend, before he entered into the contract. The Defendant argued that sending the nude photos violated the morals clause. The Plaintiff sued the Defendant for wrongful termination of the contract. The trial judge found, among other things, that the private transmission of nude photographs within … Read More
In Levant v. Day, 2017 ONSC 5956, the defendant was regular participant on social media. The defendant posted numerous times on Twitter criticising a fundraising campaign by Rebel News. The plaintiff is the principal of Rebel News. The plaintiff brought an action seeking damages for defamation. The defendant brought a motion to dismiss the action under the section 137.1(3) of the Courts of Justice Act, which was implemented to prevent strategic lawsuits against public participation (the “anti-SLAPP” provisions). As part of an anti-SLAPP motion, the Court considered whether there were grounds to believe the defendant had a valid defence. The defendant argued, among other things, that the plaintiff had failed to deliver a libel notice. Section 5(1) of the Libel and Slander Act requires that a plaintiff has give notice to the defendant in writing within six weeks after the alleged libel comes to the plaintiff’s knowledge, specifying the … Read More
Andrew Ottaway was asked to comment about online defamation and the potential risks of posting material online. See the video here. The lawyers at Gilbertson Davis have experience with libel and slander claims, including online defamation. Please contact us for an initial consultation.
Andrew Ottaway published an article in JUST Magazine on the recent phenomenon of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), and its likely effects on the Ontario justice system: “ODR matters because it is just one part of a greater trend towards taking litigation online.” The full article is available here.
In United Soils Management Inc. v. Mohammed, 2017 ONSC 4450, the Plaintiff operated a gravel pit in the municipality of Whitchurch-Stouffville. The municipal council voted to allow the Plaintiff to deposit fill onto certain sites. The Defendant was a member of the community, who was concerned about contamination from the deposits. The Defendant posted on the internet regarding her concerns. The Plaintiff demanded that the Defendant cease posting and apologize. In response, the Defendant posted a retraction and apology. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff commenced a claim against the Defendant claiming damages for defamation. The Defendant brought a motion to dismiss the action under section 137.1(3) of the Courts of Justice Act, a provision resulting from the Anti-SLAPP (Strategic lawsuit against public participation) legislation. Section 137.1(3) requires the Court to dismiss claims where the Defendant proves that the proceeding arises from “expression” related to “a matter of public interest”, subject … Read More
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. has approved the use of a worldwide injunction directing Google to de-index the defendant’s website used to facilitate the sale of goods in violation of the Equustek’s intellectual property rights. Equustek obtained an interlocutory injunction against the website owner directly, however the defendant left Canada, refused to comply with the order, and continued to sell products on their website from an unknown location. To help prevent or reduce further ongoing harm, Equustek sought for Google to de-index the site, making it less likely that a potential purchaser will discover the infringing website. Google initially agreed to de-index the result from Canadian search results on google.ca, but refused to enforce this order worldwide. It was concerned that the Canadian courts were using Google to usurp the laws of other nations, particularly on free speech issues, and potentially would force Google … Read More
In a recent press release, the Canadian government stated that they will be suspending the introduction of the private right of action set out in Canada’s anti-spam legislation (frequently referred to as CASL). The private right of action was meant to come into effect on July 1, 2017, but the government has suspended the implementation of this section to give a parliamentary committee more time to review the legislation and determine the best course of action to balance the protection of Canadian consumers against minimizing extra costs and unintended breaches by business owners. The legislation has received mixed reviews thus far. While undoubtedly a step forward in minimizing unwanted spam, many business owners have expressed concern that the definition of commercial activity are vague, the requirements for consent are onerous, and the penalties for even unintentional non-compliance are harsh. The private right of action (most likely to be done as class … Read More
In the recent decision of Voltage Pictures, LLC v. John Doe, 2017 FCA 97, the Federal Court of Appeal reversed the lower court and denied Rogers its costs of complying with a disclosure order (commonly called a Norwich Order) requiring them to disclose the names and details associated with IP addresses which the plaintiff alleges have infringed its copyrights. At the Federal Court, Rogers was prepared to provide the information, provided they were paid their costs of doing, as is customary for Norwich Orders from non-parties. While on an individual basis the costs may not have been unreasonable, the plaintiff’s concern was that they were pursuing thousands of individual infringers, which would make the cumulative costs of seeking these productions prohibitively expensive. The Federal Court held that the plaintiff did have to provide the amount demanded by Rogers. On appeal, the Federal Court reviewed the relatively new provisions under the Copyright Act which the plaintiff relied on to … Read More
In many cases, a business’s brand, reputation, and goodwill, can be its most important assets. Customers will visit, re-visit, and refer others to a business because of the reputation created through its successful branding initiatives and quality products and services. Therefore, it is important for any business to be aware of the tools available to protect their brand from being devalued or misused by others. Some of these tools are preventative, such as by registering a trademark with CIPO. the USPTO, or other national trademark offices, and by ensuring the proper assignments or licences are set out in any contracts with any designers or users of your trademarks. The copyrights for creative works can be registered, while fashion designers can seek protection of their creations as an industrial design. Unfortunately, the more successful a trademark or brand, the more likely it is to be used by copycats, counterfeiters, and competitors to drive business … Read More