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July 6, 2015

Last week the Canadian federal government announced a new and less strict Integrity Regime for suppliers doing business with federal government departments and agencies. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) initially introduced an Integrity Framework in 2012.

The changes announced on July 3, 2015, which are the result of significant industry pressure and precede a fall federal election, will give the federal government more flexibility in determining which suppliers to do business with. It will also give suppliers, even those convicted of specified offences in some cases, more access to federal government contracts.

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July 5, 2015

I currently have no dog in the ongoing local (and growing global) cab and ride-sharing application competition fight. I don’t act for any taxi company or ride-sharing firm. I do, however, as a competition lawyer and citizen, strongly support competition and undistorted markets.

It remains clear to me that Canadian consumers benefit from as open and unregulated markets as possible. It is not clear to me, however, what principled distinction local regulators may rely on to protect, for example, the conventional taxi industry when other industries are subject to little or no such similar insulation from market forces.

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June 18, 2015

On June 3, 2015, the Canadian Competition Bureau (Bureau) finalized its new core competition law compliance materials. They are essential reading for corporate compliance officers, senior management and in-house counsel.

In announcing its new Corporate Compliance Programs Bulletin, the Commissioner of Competition said:

“This bulletin seeks to help businesses of all sizes in the development of a credible and effective compliance program, but the updated bulletin pays special attention to small and mediumsized businesses. It is designed to help businesses get the solid information they need to reduce their risk of contravening the law.

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June 18, 2015

Guest Post By John Simpson (Shift Law)

The Federal Court’s recent decision in Red Label Vacations Inc. (redtag.ca) v. 411 Travel Buys Limited (411travelbuys.ca), 2015 FC 19 is the latest in a series of Canadian cases to address the tort of passing off in the context of website domain names and meta tags. And it is a departure from where things had appeared to be headed, at least with respect to “initial interest confusion”.

“Initial interest confusion” is a concept originating in U.S. trademark law. In the Internet context, it refers to when customers seeking the plaintiff’s website are initially attracted to the defendant’s website because the defendant has used the plaintiff’s trademark in a domain name or in meta tags embedded in the defendant’s website. Any confusion that results in the marketplace is limited to “initial interest” because the customers will know that they are on the defendant’s website (not the plaintiff’s) as soon as they get there. This is different from traditional passing off where customers who are initially misled by the defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s trademark remain misled throughout their dealings with the defendant.

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June 12, 2015

Major enforcement agencies, notably in the United States (U.S. FTC) and Canada (Competition Bureau), have been increasingly focusing on misleading online testimonials and disclaimers. In this respect, earlier this week Canada’s Competition Bureau launched a new advertising law publication with the first issue focusing on digital marketing issues (see: here).

These issues have also been a focus of the U.S. FTC, which has recently updated its rules on online endorsements and testimonials. Brian Heidelberger of Winston & Strawn in Chicago has posted a very good “mini law lesson” video of the U.S. FTC’s new position.  Many of the tips are also good practices for Canadian brands and agencies.  Republished with permission.

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June 11, 2015

The Canadian Competition Bureau has been increasing its advocacy, outreach and compliance efforts since the (relatively) new Commissioner of Competition (John Pecman) took office.

As part of this effort, it appears to be focusing on introducing more new media (and also an increasing range) of communication publications and compliance tools, including business-focused pamphlets, compliance videos, multi-media tools and, most recently, a new advertising law focused publication: the Deceptive Marketing Practices Digest (Marketing Digest).

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June 7, 2015

I am a competition and advertising lawyer. For about the past ten years (probably more) I have been working on promotional contests for a wide range of clients – from large consumer products firms, to start-ups and individuals that want to promote their brands in a perennially successful way: contests. They are popular with both brands and consumers.

While contests can vary considerably depending on the type of promotion, where the contest will be run and how it will be promoted, in Canada there are a number of important preliminary considerations to think about.

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