Out-Law News | 23 Apr 2001 | 12:00 am | 1 min. read
Mick McFadden of Ontario currently owns the domain name “CrappyTire.com”. Until last year, it was a web site that protested against the prices of Totonto-based Canadian Tire by comparing the prices with those of rivals. The company threatened to sue McFadden and he duly removed his web site. But he refused to give up his domain name to the company.
Consequently, Canadian Tire took its demand for CrappyTire.com to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. OUT-LAW’s John Salmon said:
“To win its case before WIPO, Canadian Tire is going to have to convince a panel that ‘crappytire.com’ is identical or confusingly similar to its trade marks – i.e. that when Canadians think of ‘Crappy Tire’, they think only of Canadian Tire.”
This is exactly what it is arguing. Canadian Tire’s submission to WIPO states:
“Canadian Tire is also colloquially referred to or known as Crappy Tire… a slang expression derived from the Canadian Tire trade marks… frequently used by younger Canadian Tire customers. In the vast majority of cases, the usage does not have a negative connotation but is an impertinent reference to a mass merchandiser.”
“What makes Canadian Tire unusual is that the company is asserting rights to something not even featuring its name. But whether it wins or not, does it really want to encourage people to call it ‘Crappy Tire’? It seems to me that this action has already backfired, particularly since the site itself had already been removed.
“If someone puts defamatory messages on a web site then there are likely grounds for legal action. But a site just airing customer grievances may not be worth the hassle, expense and embarrassment of legal action. It might only encourage the owner.”