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News Release: VCC appeals trademark case ruling

Posted on September 22, 2015

VCC Broadway campus


VANCOUVER, B.C. - Vancouver Community College filed an appeal against Vancouver Career College this week after the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed the college’s trademark infringement case on August 25.

VCC filed a lawsuit in 2011 after Vancouver Career College began a widespread campaign, to advertise and promote its education services using the marks ‘VCC’ and ‘Vancouver Community College’ through Google, Bing and other keyword advertising services, and through a new website at VCCollege.ca. VCC has been using VCC.ca since 2002 and VCC.bc.ca since 1998.

This lawsuit has attracted the attention of media and trademark experts because of the implications for Canadian trademark law.

“The case is a very important one,” says Barry Sookman, author of a seven volume treatise on computer and Internet law and professor of intellectual property at Osgoode Hall Law School, unrelated to VCC and the case.

“Keyword advertising is a billion dollar business, a significant part of which is built on the premise that businesses can appropriate the valuable trademark assets of competitors to promote their products and services. However, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that trademarks function, in effect, as consumer protection legislation to protect the public against confusion.” 

There are no appellate decisions in Canada that have considered the legality of keyword advertising. But according to Sookman, “there are many decisions which have examined the question in other jurisdictions including the U.S. and the EU. While not all keyword advertising raises concerns, advertising that uses the trademarks of competitors to sell competing products and services pose important questions that need to be examined in Canada.”

The VCC trademark has represented Vancouver Community College for decades and has been formally protected as an official mark of VCC since 1999.

“The majority of the public knows us as VCC and the law should protect us and the public from the defendant’s Internet practices that we believe have created confusion among students and the public alike,” says Dr. Peter Nunoda, VCC President and CEO. “We need to defend our brand and our well-earned reputation that we have built over the past 50 years.”

VCC celebrates 50 years of inspiring students to reach their career and educational goals, offering post-secondary training in 125 programs including bachelor’s degrees, diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships. With three campuses located on Broadway, Downtown and on Annacis Island, students can choose from hands-on instruction in culinary arts, business, design, health sciences, hospitality, transportation trades and music.

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Media can contact:

Karen Wilson
Interim Director, Marketing and Communications
Vancouver Community College
T: 604.871.7000, ext. 7429
E: kwilson@vcc.ca

High resolution photos:
Broadway campus 1
Broadway campus 2