After five years of anticipation, sweeping changes to Canada's trademark law have finally come into force. Among other things, Canadian applicants can now file applications in more than 80 countries around the world through a single international application and declarations of use are no longer required to secure registrations.
Non-Canadian retailers can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to a recent Federal Court decision which reaffirms its position that providing retail store services does not require a bricks-and-mortar establishment or direct delivery of products to Canada to constitute 'use' of a trademark in Canada. The decision also reverses the Trademarks Opposition Board's longstanding trend of ignoring ancillary services as being sufficient to constitute 'use' in Canada.
In some cases, trolls (or 'squatters') apply for trademarks that are used by brand owners in other countries with the goal of forcing those owners to negotiate with the trolls when they enter the new market. In light of Canada's use-based trademark system, this had not previously been viewed as a serious problem. However, the announcement that amendments to the Canadian Trademarks Act will eliminate use requirements poses the risk of trolls targeting Canada.