Trademarks – Protection For Foreign Language Equivalents, published in the Ottawa Business Journal last week, provides a look at three recent Canadian trademark cases that highlights the issue of translation in trademark registration.
The issues are not restricted to Canada though, and impact companies in any industry, including pharmaceuticals. Pfizer, for instance, was on the losing end of a lawsuit involving translation issues in its attempt to register ENVACAR in China.
In the U.S., the doctrine of foreign equivalents requires courts and the Trademark Opposition Board to translate foreign words in determining whether they are registrable as trademarks, or confusingly similar with existing marks.
A good overview of the doctrine, replete with real-world examples and case law, can be found in Sujata Chaudhri's article, which appeared in the January/February 2007 New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) Bulletin.
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Categories: intellectual property