Trademark Dispute may keep Target from singing “Oh Canada”

By Joseph Mandour on September 9, 2014

target San Diego, CA – Seeking expansion into the Canadian retail market, U.S. discount-retailer Target is facing major pushback from Fairweather Ltd. Fairweather filed a $250 million trademark infringement suit against the U.S. giant on grounds that it exclusively owns the right to use the Target name in Canada. Fairweather Ltd has owned the “Target Apparel” name in Canada for 10 years.

Target, which is known for name-brand merchandise priced for the masses announced last month its plans to open more than 200 stores in Canada over the next 10 years. Many of these new Target stores will be the result of spending over $1.83 billion to take over existing leases from Zellers retail chain, a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay Company.

Jessica Carlson, a Target spokeswoman, was unable to comment on the court proceedings but did mention that Target plans to use the same name, branding, and famous bull’s eye logo that it uses in the U.S.. “There really is nothing that prevents Target from using the Target name and branding elements in Canada the same way we do in the United States,” she said.

Target has challenged whether Fairweather has made continuous use of its trademark. Since the response from Target, Fairweather Ltd has opened “Target Apparel” stores in Ontario and British Colombia. It has until the end of this month to prove to the Canadian trademark office that it has used the Target name in the past three years or has plans to use it.

Since the trademarks and goods at issue are similar, it appears that Target has its work cut out in proving that canadian consumers are not likely to be confused between the two trademarks.

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