If you own a business in Canada, you should be aware of 3 new laws and rules that may have a significant impact on your operations.
1) A change in who qualifies as an expert witness.
In a unanimous Supreme Court ruling, it is now not automatically assumed that there is a conflict of interest if an expert witness has professional ties to one of the parties at trial. The particular case, White Burgess Langille Inman (WBLI) v. Abbott and Haliburton, involved expert testimony from an accounting firm auditor who worked for the latter firm. WBLI argued that the auditor could not give independent expert testimony owning to her ties to its legal adversaries.
Initially, WBLI's motion for summary dismissal was granted, but it was overturned on appeal and the case ended up in the Supreme Court. Justice Thomas Cromwell asserts that it is not the inherent conflict of interest that qualifies or disqualifies an expert witness, but whether or not the expert witness can give impartial, independent testimony despite the ties to one party or the other.
2) Creating agent/client statutory privilege for intellectual property.
Until changes take place with Canada's Budget 2015, non-lawyer/client relationships offer no protection or privilege when it comes to disclosing information about sensitive intellectual property (IP). New provisions in the Budget 2015 plans include amendments that will bring Canada's intellectual property laws up to speed with other nations' laws, including those of the UK and Australia.
The IP amendment will make changes in the current laws, creating a statutory privilege to protect sensitive, confidential information shared between intellectual property agents and their clients.
Without this protection, which will be similar to the established solicitor/client privilege, intellectual property details could be revealed in court cases, jeopardizing business trade secrets and developments.
3) Filing registered trademarks will be easier.
Canada is adapting its patent and IP laws to fit global treaties on international trademark registration and classifications of trademarks. But it's also thrown a fly in the patent ointment.
When the new rules take effect, applicants will not be required to submit any evidence concerning previous uses of trademarks. This has the potential to open many firms up to the hijacking of their trademarks, and to create myriad new legal challenges to existing and future trademarks.
Because it will be easier than ever to register a new trademark, experts are advising businesses to file trademarks early in order to avoid any headaches - and lawsuits - down the road. Contact a lawyer like one from Coley Hennessy Cassis Ewasko for more information.