is the first entry in a three-part blog series about the interaction between
estates law and intellectual property law. Part I will introduce Ontario’s
succession law regime, and provide an analysis of succession law vis-à-vis
copyright law. Part II will apply this analysis to trademark law. Finally, Part
III will examine this area in relation to patent law, as well as provide some concluding
thoughts and considerations.
In the world of will-making, when we
think about how the assets of the will-maker (usually referred to as the
“testator”) are going to be distributed, we often think about what’s going to
happen to their real estate, their vehicles, their jewellery or their other
personal belongings. While it is natural for us to first turn our mind to
property that is physical or tangible, it is important to ensure that we turn
our focus to intangible property as well, as such property often requires more
attention and direction.
One form of property that undoubtedly
fits this definition is intellectual property. In making provision for one’s
friends and family in their will, it is important to consider the financial and
sociocultural impact of any intellectual property they may own, and manage such
property accordingly. In this blog post, we will go over some key legal
considerations, under Ontario and federal law, for the transfer of copyrights,
trademarks and patents upon an individual’s death.
Canadian elections have a tendency to
disrupt copyright reform initiatives and the 2019 contest which resulted in a
minority Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is no
The trend started in 2005, when the
Liberal Government of Prime Minister Paul Martin introduced Bill C-60, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act, which
was Canada’s first attempt at adopting the comprehensive amendments required to
ratify the two WIPO internet treaties that had been negotiated in 1996 and
signed by Canada in 1997.
The minority Liberal government was
defeated by a vote of no confidence in November 2005, killing Bill C-60.
After the general election in January
2006, the defeated minority Liberal government was replaced by a minority
Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Conservatives
tabled Bill C-61, An Act to Amend the
Copyright Act, in June 2008. The bill was substantially similar to the
Liberals’ copyright reform legislation.
November 12th, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed a motion for certification of a reverse class action lawsuit
that was brought against potentially thousands of Canadiansby Voltage Pictures, LLC, a Canadian film production company
was able to identify thousands of IP addresses that were alleged to have infringed
copyright by offering or uploading its films through BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer
file sharing platform.
it brought a motion for an order to certify its application as a respondent
class proceeding. The proposed class respondents were all those individuals
whose internet accounts had been detected as involved in direct or indirect
infringement of its films or offering the copyrighted works for download.
has already brought 96 of these lawsuits against classes of unnamed defendants
in the United States, according to an affidavit which was submitted to the
Court. This litigation strategy has often been dubbed “copyright trolling” by
preliminary issue which was raised before the Court was the respondents’ lack
of an incentive to defend themselves. This issue was solved through the
intervention of the Samuelson-Glushcko Canadian Internet Policy and Public
Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), which submitted strong arguments against
Can Canadian Courts Issue Site-Blocking Orders? Prior to last Friday, it would have been unprecedented. With the Federal Court’s decision in Bell Media Inc v GoldTV Services (2019 FC 1432), that is no longer the case.
is a single trial court decision, owners of Canadian copyrights and their
lawyers now have an affirmative answer and even a test to apply to the issue.
relates to two websites, GoldTV.biz and GoldTV.ca, which offered an
unauthorized subscription service allowing users to stream copyrighted content.
The copyright owners and exclusive licensees (Rogers Media Inc., Groupe TVA
Inc. and Bell Media Inc.) objected to this, alleging infringement.
by his, her, or their absence were John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, the respective
operators of the sites. Despite the plaintiff’s diligent efforts, identifying
these entities proved impossible, with the judges in earlier stages of the
proceedings commenting that this was likely due to “obvious efforts to remain
anonymous and avoid legal action by rights holders…”
between were the nation’s internet service providers (ISPs). Indeed, in the
absence of the defendant and faced with ongoing infringement of their rights,
the plaintiffs sought site-blocking orders against eleven major ISPs. Of these,
four consented to the order and four took no position. Distributel and Cogeco
sought to vary the language of the order, and only TekSavvy opposed the order
on the merits.
A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice sheds some light on the application of the “real and substantial connection test” under Canadian copyright law where alleged infringement takes place across geographic borders. In Pourshian v. Walt Disney Company, an Ontario court allowed an action for copyright infringement to proceed against three Walt Disney Company related entities based on a movie distributed through Canadian movie theaters.
The plaintiff, Damon Pourshian, filed a Statement of Claim against a group of companies related to the Walt Disney Company. He alleged that Pixar’s award-winning animated film, “Inside Out”, released in 2015, infringed his copyright in a short film that he created in 1998 also entitled “Inside Out”. In Pourshian’s film, five organs—Heart, Stomach, Colon, Bladder, and Brain—guide the protagonist’s behaviour while in Pixar’s film, five emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—influence the protagonist’s behaviour.
In response, the defendants filed a motion to set aside service of the Statement of Claim and to stay the action on the grounds that the defendants are incorporated and have their principal places of business in the United States, that Pixar’s “Inside Out” was made in California, and as a result Canada’s Copyright Act does not have extraterritorial application. The main issue on the motion. therefore, was whether the Ontario court should assume jurisdiction over Pourshian’s action.