Imprisonment in intellectual property infringement cases is rare
- although not unheard of. The message from a
recent Canadian Federal Court decision is... don't mess with
the Court. They expect compliance with their orders and a contempt
order can lead to a "warrant of committal", resulting in
In 2013, a Federal Court ruled that Hightimes Smokeshop and its
officer and director, Ameen Muhammad had infringed the "HIGH
TIMES" trademark owned by Trans-High Corporation (See:
Trans-High Corporation v Hightimes Smokeshop and Gifts
Inc., 2013 FC 1190 (CanLII)). In spite of this judgment, the
judgement was ignored, and trademark infringement continued on the
shop signage, sales receipts and printed materials of Hightimes
Then in June 2015, Hightimes Smokeshop and Mr. Muhammad each
pleaded guilty to five counts of contempt which resulted in the
issuance of a Contempt Order, and an award of $62,500 in costs,
payable by Hightimes Smokeshop and Mr. Muhammad, jointly and
severally. However, that Contempt Order was also ignored and no
money was paid to Trans-High Corporation.
In Trans-High Corporation v. Hightimes
Smokeshop and Gifts Inc., 2015 FC 1104 (CanLII),
Trans-High Corporation brought another motion to compel compliance
with the Contempt Order, citing a ruling by the Supreme Court of
Canada, that a person who is ordered by a court to pay money
may be imprisoned for contempt if he or she shows "a
certain degree of intention to evade his or her obligations";
or, put another way "he or she is unwilling to pay the debt
despite having the ability to pay" (see paragraph 11).
The Court issued a warrant for the arrest and imprisonment of
Mr. Muhammad, arising from contempt in a trademark infringement
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A recent Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench decision allowed a court-appointed receiver to sell and transfer intellectual property rights free and clear of encumbrances, finding that a license to use improvements of an invention was a contractual interest and not a property interest.
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