Bill C-56 sneaks in changes to the Trade-marks Act


Victoria Carrington

Significant changes to both the Canadian Trade-marks Act and the Copyright Act may be coming in the near future.

The federal government seeks to bring Canada in line with the requirements of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by introducing Bill C-56—the Combating Counterfeit Products Act.

Although the purpose of Bill C-56 is to add new civil and criminal remedies for trademark and copyright owners whose rights are infringed by commercial counterfeiting activities, the government is taking this opportunity to clean up some procedural problems with the Trade-marks Act and to expand the scope of registrable trademarks. These are important and overdue changes that are not related to counterfeiting.

One of the most significant changes is the amendment to the definition of a trademark. A trademark is currently defined as a “mark”, a “certification mark”, a “distinguishing guise” or a “proposed trade-mark” used for the purpose of distinguishing a person’s wares or services from those of others. By changing the reference to “mark” throughout the Act to the word “sign”, Bill C-56 will significantly expand the scope of a registrable trademark.

Bill C-56, Canada Trade-marks Act, ACTA