April 24, 2014

Readers of my blog will know that I like competition, a lot. I have also, as have many others, been following (and commenting a little) on the ongoing beer retailing regulation debate going on in Ontario, where I spend a lot of my time. While there has now been a lot written on this issue, and a significant amount of commentary, I thought that this new Sun News video sums up the key issues very well indeed (including key results of competition: price, choice and innovation) and dispels some of the myths being put forward for maintaining the current status quo and concentration in beer retailing in Ontario.

Here is a link to the new video:

Free Our Beer

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April 20, 2014

Recently I was asked why an association should have a competition compliance program.  Sometimes I am asked why a company, association or other organization should have a compliance program.  And others, I am asked what a “compliance program is”.  These are both very valid questions. Here I thought I would write a short note on the first question (i.e, the “why”).

The conventional answers to the first question are typically something along the following lines: violation of competition/antitrust laws can lead to severe penalties (in Canada criminal fines of up to $25 million and/or imprisonment for up to 14 years); directors and officers have duties of good faith and care to their organizations, including obligations to comply with applicable laws; an investigation or civil challenge can be very prejudicial to a company’s or association’s brand; and a compliance program can (though of course is no guarantee) mitigate penalties in the event of an investigation/challenge.

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April 18, 2014

Guest post by Andrei Mincov
(Trademark Factory – reprinted with permission)

As many of you know, the Federal Government recently introduced Bill C-31, the Economic Action Plan 2014, No. 1. Among the changes to almost 40 different pieces of legislation, it introduces many significant and long-awaited changes to the Trade-marks Act.

In this post, I will outline what they are, and provide my opinion about them, and also comment on why established Canadian law firms are now singing the same old song about dangers of these new changes.  The general idea of the changes is to align Canadian trademark laws with the rest of the civilized world.

Currently, Canada has a unique system that is unlike every other trademark law on the planet. We are not party to several major international treaties that make it simpler for businesses to protect their brands around the world.

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April 17, 2014

Guest post by John Simpson
(Shift Law – reprinted with permission)

Canada’s Trade-marks Act is about to undergo its most significant amendments since it was first enacted in 1953. Even the spelling of “trade-mark” will change (to “trademark”).  Trademark practitioners and their clients should take note of the proposed changes (outlined below) as some will be relevant to trademark selection and prosecution strategy and enforcement decisions that should be made before the changes come into effect.

Some of the changes were introduced a year ago with Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. This legislation, among other things, expands the definition of “trademark” in the Trademarks Act to include scents, colours, tastes and textures that – like traditional brand names or logos – are used to distinguish the trade source of goods or services.  More recently, in January 2014, Parliament tabled three international treaties (the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty and the Nice Agreement) that each address how trademark owners may obtain trademark rights domestically and internationally.  Then, last week, on March 28, 2014, significant changes to many aspects of Canadian trademark law were smuggled into a federal omnibus budget implementation bill.

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April 16, 2014

Facebook recently announced some new changes to combat News Feed spam (see: News Feed FYI: Cleaning Up News Feed Spam).  In making the announcement, Facebook said:

“The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them.  Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see. Many of these stories are published by Pages that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would.”

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April 13, 2014

TopDog Social Media has posted a new podcast on social media contests entitled Is Your Social Media Contest Breaking the Law (and thank you TopDog for chatting with me about social media contest laws and rules). Some of the topics discussed in TopDog’s new podcast include:

The 5 most common illegal contest mistakes by businesses running contests online and over social media; Apple’s restrictions on giving away iPads & iPhones; one mistake that cost a business $170,000 in fines; two major components to ensuring your social media contest is legal; some of the basic rules you legally need to include in any contest; some of the legalities surrounding the use of third party materials; a few ways to tell if your advertising may be false or misleading; what you can and can’t legally use information for that you collect in a contest; social networks with the most and least strict policies for contests; some of YouTube’s quirky rule about using entrant information; some of what Facebook expects you to say when you run a contest; how Quebec’s strict rules could provide an opportunity for businesses; and thinking about whether your social media contest is in fact an “illegal lottery”.

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April 12, 2014

I recently read delivered by European Commission competition head Joaquin Almunia in Brussels on the topic of cartel enforcement (see: Fighting against cartels: A priority for the present and for the future).  He discussed, among other things, recent European cartel cases, fines achieved, cartels in innovation and fast moving markets and recent detection strategies (see highlights at the bottom of this post).

Readers of my blog will know that I find cartel detection and enforcement one of the most interesting, if not the most interesting, aspect of working in the competition law area.  Perhaps it’s the game theory associated with the formation, maintenance and detection of cartels that I find so fascinating.

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