By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 1 2017
A local man has successfully trademarked the word “Haliburton” and Haliburton County council isn’t too pleased about it.
“It’s our understanding that an individual has applied to the federal government to trademark the name ‘Haliburton’” county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter said during a July 26 council meeting.
It seems an error was made at the federal level and the county would like to see that error corrected.
“It’s in direct contradiction of the [copyright] act” said Minden Hills Reeve and County Warden Brent Devolin. “This isn’t a grey area at all. This is black and white.”
A guide to trademarks on the Government of Canada website states that among words that cannot be trademarked are “names and surnames” and “words that represent a geographical location commonly known to be the place of origin of such goods or services.”
“You may not register a word that uses a geographical location known to be the place where the goods or services come from” the website reads. “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.”
Rutter said the county has contacted MP Jamie Schmale regarding the situation.
“MP Schmale is working hard at this as is his staff” Rutter told councillors.
“I share the concerns of Haliburton County council” Schmale told the paper. “This decision in my opinion is ridiculous and unfair to Haliburton.”
Schmale said in his opinion an error has been made as names of geographical locations are not supposed to be open to trademark.
“I’m actually quite shocked the reviewing officer didn’t do a simple Google search to see what Haliburton is” Schmale said adding the individual clearly wasn’t familiar with the area.
“I’ve written to the minister responsible” Schmale continued explaining he’d asked for the approval to be reviewed and reversed.
The response the MP received basically indicated the only avenues available at this point are legal ones and Schmale responded again asking the situation be reviewed.
“I’m hoping that the minister will take a step back” Schmale said adding that it would be unfortunate if the county has to spend public money on legal proceedings over the issue.
Schmale has also filed a freedom of information request for the trademark application.
He said that in his nearly two years as MP and 11 years as executive assistant for his predecessor he’d never seen anything like this happen in the riding.
The manager of the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce confirmed to the paper that a couple of its member business owners had experiences with a man who approached them indicating he owned the trademark to the word “Haliburton.”
It is clear that legal proceedings may ensue.
“If we’re going to sue somebody we should sue the person in the government who made the mistake” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey.
“We will do whatever is required to enforce this” Devolin told the paper.
The trademark holder is Minden resident Michael Stinson.
Records on the Government of Canada website show that Stinson filed for the word mark trademark of “Haliburton” in October of 2015 with the trademark registered on Feb. 1 2017.
“I know that through the government you can apply for a trademark” Stinson told the paper adding that anyone has the right to oppose a trademark application but no one did. “I look at that as an opportunity to promote Haliburton outside of the county.”
Devolin said the county did not oppose the application because no one was made aware that such an application had been made.
Stinson added he also had outdoor clothing in mind that would use the Haliburton name.
“Sort of like Columbia North Face L.L. Bean” he said. “I looked at that as a business opportunity to do that.”
“I was looking to promote Haliburton and assist local retailers” Stinson continued adding he had been assisting retailers with distribution of souvenir items and intended to donate money from the sale of items back to the community.
“I have a licensed business called ‘The Haliburton Store’ which has been registered for over a year” Stinson wrote in a subsequent email to the paper. “I have been selling various items with the Haliburton name and trademark on it all approved by the federal government.
“I followed the necessary steps to trademark the name Haliburton which took over 18 months and the County of Haliburton did not oppose this application. They had the opportunity to do so. I wanted to make this perfectly clear as I am passionate about the name of our county as my family immigrated here from Ireland in the 1800s and owned the Stinson Mills where the Orillia [Power Generation] dam is right now. I am the great grandson of S.F. Stinson the owner. The main reason I trademarked the name was since the county appeared to have no interest in trademarking the name then I could do it to keep it away from anyone else or company in Canada that might tarnish or put the name in a bad light.”
Trademarks in Canada last for 15 years.