Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tarrifs, Trademarks, and National Identity

I remember when Walmart first showed up in Ottawa, and even before they put shovel into ground, they took on a little mom and pop operation for name copyright infringement. Wool-Mart had been in Ottawa longer than Wal-Mart had been in Canada, but that didnt matter to the lawyers. (an out of court settlement allowed Wool-Mart to change their name to Wool-Time) Then a few years later, Rockin' Johnny's restaurants are popping up all over Ottawa. A well established US company called Johnny Rockin' again took them to court,same reason, even though they were in a separate country, and no competition can possibly occur. Don't really know the results of that case, but the owner sold one restaurant in South Keys, but is still hangin in there on St Laurent blvd.
Now I see that the Supreme Court of Canada granted US toymaker Matel Inc permission to appeal rulings by the "Trademarks Opposition Board" (ever hear of that before?) that allowed a Canadian company to continue business as Barbie's BBQ Restaurant. This case is a little different though.....seems they really are blatantly ripping off Mattel, who registered Barbie and Barbie's marks many years ago for Doll related items, but neglected to register them for restaurant, and presumably clothing related items.
I am reminded of when KFC used to be Kentucky Fried Chicken. Until sometime in the late 80's when the state of Kentucky demanded huge licenceing fees for using their name...so they changed it to KFC. So why KFC Canada? Another lock step move from the parent company I suppose...
Ahh well...I remember when my friend D'Arcy came up from Texas and we drove all around the Milton Oakville area looking for the UPS depot. She said it looked so much like West Texas that it was uncanny! Same little strip malls, same big box stores, even the big traffic signs over the highway had a sort of universal look to them. She noted at the time that Ontario was looking more and more like just another midwest state every year. I wonder if that is all bad though....

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