Canada: La Violation De Droit D’auteur Outre-Mer Peut Donner Lieu À Réparation Au Canada

Last Updated: February 4 2014
Article by François Larose and Amy Dam

Dans une décision récente, Layette Minimôme inc. c. Jarrar, 2013 QCCS 6084, la Cour Supérieure du Québec fait intervenir l'obligation de bonne foi prévue au Code civil du Québec (CcQ) à la rescousse d'une société canadienne malgré le rejet de son recours pour violation de droit d'auteur sur les vêtements qu'elle confectionne car la violation aurait eu lieu à l'extérieur du pays.  

La demanderesse, Layette Minimôme inc. (Layette), crée et vend des vêtements pour enfants. La défenderesse, Canadian Fashion Designs inc., et son représentant M. Jarrar, agissaient à titre de courtier entre Layette et une entreprise de Dubaï, Babyshop, laquelle est propriétaire de boutiques de vêtements pour enfants. L'entente intervenue entre Babyshop et Layette était à l'effet que Babyshop choisissait des vêtements de la collection de Layette et un manufacturier préapprouvé en Chine reproduisait les vêtements qui étaient ensuite vendus sous la marque maison de Babyshop. Babyshop payait à Layette le prix coûtant du manufacturier majoré de 25 % et Layette remettait 5 % de cette commission à M. Jarrar. 

En août 2008, en alléguant des retards de production, Babyshop a mis fin à sa relation contractuelle avec Layette. Peu après, Layette apprit l'existence d'une collaboration entre M. Jarrar et Babyshop en vertu de laquelle M. Jarrar fournissait à Babyshop des échantillons de la collection de Layette et Babyshop faisait fabriquer des copies de ces vêtements par un manufacturier non autorisé, toujours en Chine.

Layette présente au tribunal une preuve prépondérante étoffée, par exemple : 

  • Babyshop aurait tenté de convaincre Layette d'évincer la défenderesse de la relation pour éviter de payer une commission – ce que Layette avait alors refusé par loyauté envers les défendeurs;
  • Les raisons de la rupture de la relation contractuelle entre Babyshop et Layette sont plutôt nébuleuses;
  • L'importance financière de la relation entre la défenderesse et Babyshop;
  • En tant que représentant pour Layette, M. Jarrar conservait beaucoup d'échantillons de vêtements de Layette et tardait à les lui retourner; 
  • M. Jarrar admet avoir remis des copies des vêtements de Layette à Babyshop alors qu'elle lui avait expressément demandé de surveiller la contrefaçon lorsqu'il se trouvait à Dubaï; 
  • Un manufacturier chinois avec qui Layette n'a aucun lien d'affaire prétend fabriquer des vêtements pour elle; 
  • Layette trouve des copies de ses vêtements sur le site Web et dans les magasins de Babyshop à Dubaï; 
  • Babyshop aurait obtenu des copies de vêtements de Layette avant que ces vêtements soient disponibles au public; 
  • Le tout en sus du témoignage vague et peu crédible de M. Jarrar. 

Cette preuve prépondérante suffit pour convaincre le tribunal qu'il y a eu présomption de contrefaçon des vêtements de Layette, que les défendeurs y sont impliqués et que ces derniers ont violé leur obligation de bonne foi en vertu des articles 6, 7 et 1375 CcQ.

Cela dit, le tribunal rejette le recours fondé sur la Loi sur le droit d'auteur (LDA). En effet, bien que les vêtements créés par Layette soient des Suvres distinctives et originales qui pourraient être protégées par le droit d'auteur, le tribunal conclut que la LDA ne trouve pas application aux circonstances du litige, car la LDA n'a pas de portée extraterritoriale. Or, les copies ont été fabriquées en Chine, à la demande d'un résident de Dubaï et ont été vendues dans les Émirats Arabes Unis. 

Fait intéressant, les défendeurs avaient également argué que Layette ne pouvait pas revendiquer un droit d'auteur puisque chaque vêtement s'agit d'un dessin appliqué à un objet utilitaire reproduit par le titulaire à  plus de 50 exemplaires – or, l'article 64(2) LDA prévoit explicitement que la reproduction de l'Suvre ne constitue pas une violation du droit d'auteur dans un tel cas. Layette a plaidé l'exception à cette règle prévue à l'article 64(3) LDA, soit que cette règle ne s'applique pas, notamment, aux images représentées sur l'objet, au matériel dont le motif est tissé, ou encore aux représentations d'êtres réels ou imaginaires. Comme Layette jouit, en vertu de l'article 34.1 LDA, d'une présomption que ses Suvres sont protégées – ce que les défendeurs n'ont pas tenté de renverser – alors, si la LDA avait trouvé application n'eût été l'aspect extraterritorial de cette affaire, la Cour aurait rejeté cette défense.

Malgré l'absence d'application de la LDA, le tribunal accueille quand même partiellement la demande et octroie à Layette des dommages pour perte de profits sur les ventes faites en violation de l'obligation de bonne foi des défendeurs. La responsabilité de M. Jarrar est extracontractuelle en vertu de l'article 1457 CcQ puisque seule la défenderesse Canadian Fashion Designs a contracté avec Layette. Le tribunal est d'avis que M. Jarrar n'a pas affiché un comportement qui correspond à celui auquel Layette pouvait s'attendre et que son comportement est déloyal et fautif. Les défenderesses ont donc été condamnées à verser 144 050.96 $ à Layette.

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Authors
François Larose
Amy Dam
 
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