Blame (Air) Canada


Cory Doctorow savages an attempt by Air Canada to go after its critics using trademark law. The target is the proprietor of a website hosting an online petition calling for the removal of Air Canada's president. The site's crime? Borrowing Air Canada's maple-leaf logo. Doctorow nails it:

Trademark exists to protect us, the public, from those who would fraudulently confuse their products with ones we're familiar with: in other words, when we crack open a can of Coke, we have the right to be sure that what's in the tin is the real deal, the pure Black Waters of American Imperialism, and not Crazy Joe's Discount Soda Beverage. […]

Which begs the question: Where's the confusion in Air Canada's case? What reasonable person, confronted with the petition at, would assume that this was somehow a service offered by Air Canada, or would come to some harm through momentary disorientation? Indeed, Air Canada's position appears to be that the use of its marks identifies the petition's target too clearly.


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  1. Air Canada’s position seems ridiculous. Just more bad pub for them. When will companies learn?

    In the domain name context, there’s some recent helpful law (see here). In the logo/mark context, there’s some helpful parody/fair use law as well (recent uproar over puma ad parody).

  2. There was a similar case a while back featuring (I think) Dell or Gateway. They won a judgement for several hundred thousand dollars against a disgruntled employee.

  3. I’m sorry, “judgment.”

  4. I believe the real howler about Air Canada
    went unnoted in Hit and Run.

    Air Canada, though no longer a government
    monopoly, carries about 80 percent of the
    passenger miles within Canada (US airlines
    are forbidden to fly from point to point
    within Canada, or even to sell tickets
    between two cities in Canada with a stop
    at a US hub). Thus, it is a near monopoly.

    About a month ago, Air Canada essentially
    went bankrupt. Those of you who recall your
    basic economics will remember that monopolies
    in general tend to do pretty well. I have
    great fun asking my economist friends who do
    industrial organization to explain this one.

    Jeff Smith

  5. all i know is that i hate air canada, they owe me $$$

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