October 2003

Trade Mark

A charity set up in 1994 to refurbish the decaying replica of the famous schooner Bluenose, called Bluenose II, has launched a legal action to protect what it claims are valid and subsisting trade marks and copyrights to the ship and its image. The original Bluenose was a famous Nova Scotia-based sailing ship of the early 20th Century. It appears on Canadian dimes and on Nova Scotia vehicle licence plates. Although the original ship foundered in 1946, a replica was built and purchased by the Nova Scotia Government. Bluenose II has been maintained and operated since 1994 by Bluenose II Preservation Trust Society , funded partly by the Nova Scotia Government.
The Society has now begun to assert rights to Bluenose marks and images, on the basis of copyright in design of the ship, acquired from the family of the original ship designer, and on the basis of a number of official marks under registered under federal and province trade mark legislation in Canada. A small souvenir company, Tall Ship Art Productions Ltd. is defending claims by the Society that it has infringed the Society’s trademarks and copyright. Tall Ships has been marketing Bluenose products for 27 years, clearly well before the Society was awarded the trade marks and claims that any copyright is in the public domain. The Nova Scotia Government also claims the sole right to protect the schooner’s name and image, and the Nova Scotia Supreme Court recently granted it the right to intervene in the case (see Bluenose II v Tall Ships, [2003] NSJ No 320). The case is expected to explore a number of trade mark and copyright issues under Canadian law.

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