ipbog.ca turns 10 this month. It's been a decade since our
first post in October 2006 and to commemorate
this milestone ...since no-one else will... let's have a look
at IP rights and birthdays.
You may have heard that the lyrics and music to the song
"Happy Birthday" were the subject of a protracted
copyright battle. The lawsuit came as a surprise to many people,
considering this is the "world's most popular song"
(apparently beating out Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, but
that's another copyright story for another time). Warner Music
Group claimed that they owned the copyright to "Happy
Birthday", and when the song was used for commercial purposes
(movies, TV shows, commercials), Warner Music extracted license
fees, to the tune of $2 million each year. When this copyright
claim was finally challenged, a US court ruled that Warner Music
did not hold valid copyright, resulting in a $14 million
settlement of the decades-old dispute in
In the realm of trademarks, a number of Canadian trademark
owners lay claim to HAPPY BIRTHDAY including:
The Section 9 Official Mark below,
depicting a skunk or possibly a squirrel with a top hat, to
celebrate Toronto's sesquicentennial. Hey, don't be too
hard on Toronto, it was the '80s.
Another Section 9 Official Mark, the
more staid "HAPPY BIRTHDAY VANCOUVER
1886-1986" to celebrate that city's centennial.
Because nothing says 'let's party' like the words HAPPY
BIRTHDAY VANCOUVER 1886-1986.
Cartier's marks HAPPY
BIRTHDAY (TMA511885 and TMA779496) in association with
handbags, eyeglasses and pens.
Mattel's mark HAPPY
BIRTHDAY (TMA221857) in association with dolls and doll
The mark HAPPY BIRTHDAY
VINEYARDS (pending) for wine, not to be confused with
BIRTHDAY CAKE VINEYARDS (also pending) also for
FTD's marks BIRTHDAY
PARTY (TMA229547) and HAPPY BIRTHTEA!
(TMA484760) for "live cut floral arrangements"
And for those who can't wait
until their full birthday there's the registered mark
HALFYBIRTHDAY (TMA833899 and TMA819609) for
greeting cards and software.
The registered mark BIRTHDAY
BLISS (TMA825157) for "study programs in the field of
spiritual and religious development".
Let's not forget
BIRTHDAYTOWN (TMA876458) for novelty items such as
"key chains, crests and badges, flags, pennants, photos,
postcards, photo albums, drinking glasses and tumblers, mugs,
posters, pens, pencils, stick pins, window decals and
Of course, no trademark list would be
complete without including McDonald's
MCBIRTHDAY mark (TMA389326) for restaurant
So, pop open a bottle of branded wine and enjoy some live cut
floral arrangements and a McBirthday® burger as you
peruse a decade's worth of Canadian IP law commentary.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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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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