Man Trademarks 'Welcome To Parry Sound,' Demands Money From Parry Sound Organizations

from the ah,-trademark-law dept

You may have noticed that as the field of “intellectual property law” has been getting more and more attention, those who benefit the most from it have done an effective, if misleading, job of convincing people that copyright, patents and trademark are “just like property.” That’s not true of course, and it’s especially misleading when it comes to trademark law, which is designed to prevent consumer confusion, not to provide incentives, like copyright or patent law. But, all too frequently, we see people think that if they can somehow get a registered trademark on a term, it means they can prevent others from using it. Perhaps the most famous case was that of Leo Stoller who got trademarks on a variety of words, such as “stealth,” and then started demanding everyone who used those words pay up.

It appears that Stoller is not alone in this game, and this latest example may have taken a misinterpretation of trademark law to another level altogether. Reader Project P1 points us to the news that a guy named Nick Slater was somehow able to secure a trademark on the term “Welcome to Parry Sound.” Parry Sound, of course, is a small town in Ontario. Now that Slater has the trademark, he’s been invoicing lots of organizations for daring to use the phrase “welcome to Parry Sound,” in any way. Thankfully, the various lawyers of those invoiced have all said, clearly, that there’s no trademark issue here and not to pay, but Slater isn’t giving up. Town residents have been protesting by putting up “Welcome to Parry Sound” signs on their lawn, and one guy set up a “Welcome to Parry Sound” Facebook group.

Slater’s response? He sent that guy an invoice as well… and then filed a takedown claim with Facebook which blindly complied.

There is no legitimate trademark claim here, but once again, we’re seeing what the concept of “intellectual property” is creating, with people thinking they can own basic things like a town greeting.

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Comments on “Man Trademarks 'Welcome To Parry Sound,' Demands Money From Parry Sound Organizations”

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16 Comments
Hephaestus (profile) says:

I hope this becomes a trend. For things to get better sometimes they need to get worse first. Right now only the techie and content types are being affected by this. If everyone knew someone who was affected by this maybe we could get Patents and copyright back inline with what they are supposed to do “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”

Cha Ching says:

Going to be rich!

I am going add the phrase “Welcome to” to every location on earth, trademark it and sue every living person using it! Brilliant!

Welcome to Ohio – Cha Ching!
Welcome to San Francisco – Cha Ching!
Welcome to Siberia – Cha Ching!

I hope nobody realizes places of the world have an established date (ie Parry Sound of 1857) prior to my trademarks thus nullifying my lawsuit. Not like there are maps, guidebooks, amusement parks, etc that have used “Welcome to ” for decades prior to this. But I am sure nobody will have thought to look that deep into it.

*stares like a deer in the headlights*

Anonymous Coward says:

Registrability

>…a guy named Nick Slater was somehow able to secure a >trademark on the term “Welcome to Parry Sound”.

If you took the time to understand the Canadian trade mark process, you would understand why the mark went through to registration. Canadian trade mark law does not allow Examiners to deny registration on the basis of non-distinctiveness. The mark in question is in no way “clearly descriptive” of the goods or services associated with the application, so the mark proceeded to advertisement. The public at large had 2 months within which to file an opposition to the registration of this mark. It most definitely would have fallen in the opposition process, but nobody bothered to oppose the mark. The only way to get rid of this guy now is through the Federal Court…

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Registrability

I’m betting there’ll be a case in Federal Court any day now.

And, I’m thinking that after that we’ll be told by the Tories (and the Grits) that we have to do things this way because of our international obligations under ACTA, which isn’t finished and hasn’t seen the light of day in the Commons yet.

Gawd, we’re such a stupid country sometimes!

Daryl McMurray says:

Re: Registrability

I believe you are correct about this falling in opposition, and yes, it was published for the required amount of time. The problem is that opposing it would have required someone to have conceived that slater would attempt to register such a mark – and be regularly scanning the trade-mark journal (The only place it’s published) in order to have caught it during the required time frame. Being from Parry Sound, I can assure you that we are wanting nothing more then for Slater to actually attempt to take this to federal court. So far… He’s chickened out. Slater has not even tried to sue anyone for Trade-Mark infringement – Instead, he sent out invoices ($1000 per usage per year, as a non solicited Trade-Mark licencing fee – if you can believe that!) , and then attempted to sue in small claims court for non payment of the invoices.

Randy Higgins says:

Still invoicing

Two years later I am still getting invoiced for my Welcome to Parry Sound facebook group. Non-commercial use of a trademark is NOT infringement. The trademarks act supports this.
Courts have found that non-misleading use of trademarks in URLs and domain names of critical websites is fair. Companies can get particularly annoyed about these uses because they may make your post appear in search results relating to the company, but that doesn’t give them a right to stop you.Anyone can sell diesel fuel even though one company has trademarked DIESEL for jeans. Only holders of “famous” trademarks, like CocaCola, can stop use in all categories, but even they can’t block non-commercial uses of their marks.

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