Canada: La PI dans la mire

La Cour fédérale conclut que les décisions partagées sont autorisées en vertu du paragraphe 38(3) de la Loi sur les marques de commerce

Marques de commerce et stratégie de marque

La Cour fédérale a récemment accueilli l'appel de Les Marques Métro / Metro Brands S.E.N.C. (Metro) de la décision de la Commission des oppositions datée du 22 décembre 2015. L'opposante, Metro, avait allégué qu'en vertu de l'alinéa 38(2)a) de la Loi sur les marques de commerce (Loi), la demande d'enregistrement de 1161396 Ontario Inc. (116 Inc.) ne respectait pas les exigences de l'alinéa 30b) de la Loi, étant donné que la marque de la requérante n'avait pas été employée en liaison avec les « biscuits et petits gâteaux » depuis la date de premier emploi alléguée.

116 Inc. a produit une demande pour enregistrer la marque de commerce IRRÉSISTIBLES (marque) en liaison avec des:

[Traduction] bonbons et collations, nommément barres de friandises, tablettes de chocolat,  confiseries au sucre, nougatines dures aux arachides, barres au caramel, biscuits et petits gâteaux, confiseries gélifiées, confiseries de chocolat, menthes au chocolat, boîtes de chocolats assortis et bonbons en dérivé de guimauve.

Devant l'ambiguïté que soulève la question à savoir si l'alinéa 30b) de la Loi impose l'obligation que la marque ait été employée en liaison avec tous les produits décrits dans la demande, la Cour fédérale a tranché la question par l'affirmative. La Cour fédérale a rejeté l'argument de 116 Inc. selon lequel le critère énoncé à l'alinéa 30b) [traduction] « exige simplement que le requérant démontre l'emploi en liaison avec la catégorie générale de produits et non avec chaque produit énuméré dans la demande d'enregistrement » et a confirmé que la marque doit « néanmoins avoir été employée en liaison avec chacun des produits ou services spécifiques décrits dans la catégorie générale avant la date de production de la demande du requérant. »

Concluant que 116 Inc. n'avait pas réussi à démontrer son emploi de la marque en liaison avec les produits spécifiques « biscuits et petits gâteaux » avant la date de production de la demande de la requérante ou à tout moment depuis cette date, la Cour fédérale devait décider si le registraire pouvait rendre une décision partagée dans le contexte d'une opposition en vertu du paragraphe 38(8) de la Loi, étant donné que ce point avait fait l'objet d'une contestation de la part de 116 Inc. En d'autres termes, la Cour fédérale devait déterminer si une demande pouvait être acceptée à l'égard de certains produits et/ou services tout en étant refusée à l'égard d'autres produits et/ou services. La Cour fédérale a conclu que l'objet de la Loi et les motifs impératifs d'intérêt général indiquaient que de telles décisions partagées étaient autorisées.

Plus précisément, la Cour fédérale a conclu que les décisions partagées étaient nécessaires pour que le régime canadien des marques de commerce assure un bon équilibre entre la libre concurrence et la juste concurrence. La Cour fédérale a aussi jugé qu'il était déraisonnable et inéquitable qu'une opposition ayant été partiellement accueillie donne lieu à un refus de la demande dans sa totalité.

De plus, la Cour fédérale a noté que les décisions partagées décourageraient l'adoption de pratiques inefficaces. Par exemple, si les décisions partagées n'étaient pas autorisées, les requérants seraient incités à enregistrer plusieurs marques de commerce parallèles afin d'éviter le risque qu'une demande ne soit refusée dans sa totalité en raison du fait que la marque faisant l'objet de la demande ne serait pas enregistrable à l'égard d'un seul produit ou service décrit dans la demande.

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada S.E.N.C.R.L., s.r.l. a agi pour le compte de Metro.

Les auteurs désirent remercier Claudette van Zyl, stagiaire, pour son aide dans la préparation de cette PI dans la mire.

Lien à la décision :

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