By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 3, 2017
It seems like something out of The Beaverton or The Onion or any other number of satirical publications, but it is in fact, real life.
Last week, we learned that a Haliburton County resident had, earlier this year, successfully trademarked the word “Haliburton.”
Yes, you read that correctly.
I’m sure Stephen Leacock is rolling over in his grave.
As unlikely as it may sound, a local man has applied for, and been approved for, the trademark to the word “Haliburton.”
Records on the Government of Canada website show that the trademark holder applied for the trademark in October of 2015 and was granted it in February of this year.
The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce has confirmed that member business owners have been approached by a man informing them he has the trademark to the word “Haliburton,” and Haliburton County council, understandably, doesn’t seem too pleased about the situation.
It is the opinion of some councillors, as well as MP Jamie Schmale, that the trademark was approved in error.
A look at Canadian trademark regulations makes it seem like that is the case.
“You may not register a word that uses a geographical location known to be the place where goods and services come from,” they read. “Allowing you to use such place names as part of your trademark would mean you are the only one who can use the geographical term, and that would be unfair to others.”
What’s more, the regulations state that among words that cannot be trademarked are names and surnames.
Not only is Haliburton a place, Haliburton is also a surname. Nineteenth century land baron Thomas Chandler Haliburton is the community’s namesake.
So, there’s that.
Complicating matters, however, is legislation that reads once a trademark is granted, it cannot be undone.
Trademarks in Canada last for 15 years.
Schmale is requesting that the government review and reverse the approval and county councillors have made it clear that legal action is an option.
“We will do whatever is required to enforce this,” Haliburton County Warden Brent Devolin told the paper last week.
While it will be unfortunate if public money has to be spent to resolve the matter, it appears that’s where we may be heading.