National Post

Saskatoon distillery fights Ottawa over trademark

They’re basing it maybe on their own morals as opposed to anybody else’s

- By Alex MacPherson

SASKATOON•-A Saskatoon com pany’s a-ttempt to trademark its flag ship vodka has turned into a foury- ear battle with the federal govern ment over the definition of “bastard.”

In 2011, LB Distillers applied to the Canadian Intellectu­al Property Office ICPO)( to register “Lucky Bastard vodka” as a trademark. About eight months later, the agency responsibl­e for trademarks, patents and copyright replied.

“The examiner came back and said it was immoral, scandalous and obscene, and that the general population of Canada would agree that it was an immoral name,” LB Distillers co-owner Cary Bowman said.

The micro- distillery’s appeal was rejected in 2012, but the company persisted, filing a-separate applica tion to register “Lucky Bastard.”

On Oct. 8, CIPO sent a letter to LB Dis tillers stating t hat it “does not a- ppear registrabl­e” because it vio lates the Canadian Trade-marks Act, w-hich prohibits trademarks that in clude “any scandalous, obscene or immoral word or device.”

The letter includes an extract from the Collins English Dictionary d-ef in i-ng “bastard” as “informal” and “of fensive.”

CIPO objected based on the traditiona­l definition of the word — a c- hild born out of wedlock — and re fused to acknowledg­e either that it is now common for unmarried people to have children, o-r the widely-accepted meaning of “Lucky Bastard,” Bowman said.

TB he name alludes to L Distillers founders Michael Goldney and Lacey Crocker, who won a $ 14.6- million Lotto 6/49 jackpot in 2006.

Bowman is also concerned the law is not being applied consistent­ly. A search of the trademark database reveals several containing the word “bastard” — including Fat Bastard wine, he noted. The situation amounts to one examiner applying his or her views to the process, he said.

“- When it’s one person who’s decid ing the fate of something like that, and they’re basing it maybe on their own morals as opposed to anybody else’s, and yet calling it everybody else’s, that’s quite unfair.”

The federal agency declined an i nterview request but provided an e-mailed statement. “Trade-mark exa miners analyse ( sic) the applicatio­n and research the meanings of words comprising the mark. An objection is raised if the examiner considers that the trademark is not registrabl­e,” the statement said. “The examiner relied on the definition of the word bastard a s found in the The Collins s English Dictionary.” The dispute has cost LB Distillers about $5,000 in legal fees, but the company plans to pursue the matter, Bowman said

This is not the first time the microdisti­llery’s name has been rejected. In 2010, t he company was forced to r egister as LB Distillers instead of Lucky Bastard Distillers.

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