Canada: Le Placement De Produits Comme Preuve De La Notoriété D’une Marque De Commerce

Last Updated: December 5 2013
Article by Jean-Sébastien Dupont

Dans une décision récente, la Cour fédérale a déterminé que les marques de commerce COHIBA pour cigares et cigarillos étaient bien connues et emblématiques au Canada en se basant principalement sur une preuve d'expert démontrant l'emploi de la marque dans les médias, incluant le cinéma, la télévision, la musique et les médias imprimés. Ceci a mené la Cour à conclure que la réputation de la marque s'étendait au-delà des fumeurs de cigares et à rejeter une demande d'enregistrement pour la marque de commerce LAZARO COHIBA en association avec du rhum et ce, malgré les différences au niveau des marchandises et de la nature du commerce de ces produits.

Tequila Cuervo ("Cuervo") a déposé une demande pour enregistrer la marque de commerce LAZARO COHIBA sur la base de l'emploi projeté au Canada en association avec "alcoholic beverages, namely rum." Empresa Cubana Del Tabaco, faisant également affaires sous Corporation Habanos ("Habanos"), s'est opposée à cette demande. Le principal motif d'opposition soulevé reposait sur la confusion entre la marque projetée et les marques de commerce COHIBA et COHIBA & Dessin (reproduite ci-dessous) de Habanos, enregistrées en association avec du tabac, incluant des cigares.

La seule preuve déposée par Habanos devant le registraire des marques de commerce (« Registraire ») visant à établir l'emploi et la notoriété des marques de commerce COHIBA au Canada consistait en des chiffres de ventes pour 1994-1999 qualifiés de constants et non-négligeables. Le Registraire a rejeté l'opposition de Habanos en concluant que les marchandises et la nature du commerce des parties étaient différentes et que, bien que les marques de commerce COHIBA avaient été employées au Canada depuis plusieurs années, elles étaient relativement peu connues et l'étaient seulement par un petit groupe de consommateurs de cigares.

Dans le cadre de l'appel de cette décision devant la Cour fédérale (2013 CF 1010), Madame la juge Snider a conclu que la marque de commerce COHIBA était bien connue au point d'être considérée emblématique non seulement par les adeptes de la marque, mais également au niveau du public en général. Cette détermination était basée sur une preuve additionnelle d'expert introduite par Habanos en appel et montrant que la marque COHIBA a fait l'objet de nombreuses références au cinéma, à la télévision, dans la musique et autres médias, tels que des magazines distribués aux États-Unis et au Canada. Habanos a également produit une preuve d'expert établissant que les fumeurs sont plus susceptibles d'être des consommateurs de boissons alcoolisées et qu'il y a une relation dans leur esprit entre le tabac et l'alcool.

Il est intéressant de noter qu'aucune preuve additionnelle n'a été déposée en appel par Habanos sur les chiffres de ventes limités qu'elle avait produits devant le Registraire. Ainsi, la Cour n'avait que les mêmes chiffres de ventes « non-négligeables » pour la période 1994-1999, c'est-à-dire près de 15 années avant la date de sa décision.

Malgré cela et nonobstant le fait que la Court ait souligné que Habanos aurait pu faire une preuve plus directe de la reconnaissance de la marque COHIBA en faisant un sondage auprès des consommateurs canadiens, Madame la juge Snider s'est dite satisfaite par la force probante de la preuve d'expert et a également noté qu'il n'y avait aucun doute que les séries télévisées mentionnées dans cette preuve, telles que « Sex and the City » et « The Simpsons » étaient largement visionnées par les Canadiens.

C'est ainsi que la Cour a essentiellement conclu qu'une marque de commerce était bien connue, emblématique et célèbre principalement sur la base d'une preuve d'expert démontrant « l'emploi » de cette marque de commerce dans des films, des séries télévisées et autres médias et ce, malgré une preuve limitée de l'emploi réel de la marque de commerce sur le marché et aucune preuve directe de la reconnaissance de celle-ci auprès des consommateurs canadiens.

Cette décision représente un développement intéressant pour les propriétaires de marques de commerce qui sont en mesure de montrer leur marque dans la culture populaire par le biais de placement de produits ou autrement et qui pourraient maintenant utiliser ce type de preuve dans le cadre de procédures d'opposition ou d'action en contrefaçon de marque de commerce au Canada pour établir la réputation et la notoriété de leur marque et ainsi renforcer l'étendue de leur protection.

À noter que Cuervo a porté en appel la décision de la Cour fédérale.

Pour obtenir de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec l'un de nos professionnels en marques de commerce.

The preceding is intended as a timely update on Canadian intellectual property and technology law. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. To obtain such advice, please communicate with our offices directly.

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