Teresa Scassa - Blog

Teresa Scassa

Teresa Scassa

“Geographic Information as Personal Information”, (2010) 10:2 Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal 185-214

The rapid proliferation of applications using geographical information combined with the growing accessibility of vast quantities of data of all kinds has given rise to the mapping of information on an unprecedented scale. Information maps are created by governments, private sector actors, and even by individuals; they may be sole-authored or crowd-sourced. These maps are frequently made available over the internet. Information maps have a serious potential to impact on personal privacy. This paper gives an overview of developments in the mapping of information. It then explores a key question in the data protection context: when is geographical information personal information? Particular challenges in answering this question include the way in which geographical information may be a key to re-identifying de-identified data, and how it can be used to link aggregate geodemographic data to specific individuals.

“Ambush Marketing and the Right of Association: Clamping Down on References To that Big Event with All the Athletes in a Couple of Years”, now published in the Journal of Sport Managemet. PDF available here

“Privacy by the Wayside: The New Information Superhighway, Data Privacy, and the Deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems”, (2011) 74 University of Saskatchewan Law Review 117-164 (with Jennifer Chandler and Elizabeth F. Judge)

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) integrate vehicles and surface transportation infrastructure with information, communication, and sensory technologies to improve the safety, efficiency, security, service, accessibility, environmental responsibility, and reliability of the transportation system. The term ITS covers a very broad range of transport-related activities involving federal, provincial, and municipal governments as well as private sector actors. In its broadest sense, ITS enables an integrated and intelligent network of services for both public and private transportation systems. In this article, we discuss the data protection and privacy issues raised by the use of ITS in Canada.  We begin with an overview identifying the central privacy issues that arise with ITS. We then provide an introduction to the legal and institutional privacy framework in Canada. This is followed by a closer analysis of Canada’s data protection regimes and their application to ITS. 

Dana Ellis, Teresa Scassa & Benoit Séguin, “Framing Ambush Marketing as a Legal Issue: An Olympic Perspective”, (2011) 14:3 Sport Management Review 297-308.

This paper examines the emerging trend of host countries using legislation to protect the Olympic brand and control ambush marketing. More specifically, it will discuss Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act in depth. Issues related to framing ambush marketing as a legal issue as opposed to a business issue are examined. The consequences of placing ambush marketing in a legal context are considered from a legal and business management perspective.

Wednesday, 15 June 2005 12:21

Interests in the Balance

“Interests in the Balance”, Book Chapter in Michael Geist, ed., In the Public Interest – The Future of Canadian Copyright Law, Irwin Law, 2005 (pp. 41-65)


In this paper, the author explores the ambiguities and inconsistencies in the Supreme Court of Canada’s latest articulation of the balance to be struck in copyright law. She considers whether the balancing of interests is to be approached by courts based on, or independently of, the balance struck in the legislation. She argues that the identified interests of ‘creators’, ‘users’ and the public should be understood in a textured way, and that the interests of ‘owners’ should neither be forgotten nor conflated with those of creators of works.

“Patent Law at the Supreme Court of Canada: A Healthy Balance?”, in Jocelyn Downie & Elaine Gibson, eds., Health Law at the Supreme Court of Canada. Irwin Law Books, 2006, pp. 337-364

In the health care context, the boundaries of private ownership rights over innovation in the fields of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals and the scope of the public domain have important implications for research and development, for cost to both the public purse and to private individuals, and ultimately for access to treatment. An approach which places limits and sets boundaries is therefore often favoured by those concerned about these areas of activity. By contrast, the pharmaceutical industry has emphasized the importance of strong and broad patent rights, arguing that they provide the necessary incentive for continued research and development.

This paper explores these tensions in the context of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada. The first section of the paper explores the Court’s recent statements on the purpose of patent law, with a particular focus on statements of purpose in health law related cases. After a consideration of the general statements of purpose made in the cases, the paper examines how these statements influence the interpretation and outcomes in key cases.

            The second section of the paper examines the Court’s approach to interpreting the scope of patents. As the Court has pointed out, a patent is a regulation within the meaning of the Interpretation Act. Thus the interpretation of the scope of the patent granted, also referred to as “claims construction,” is a second level of judicial interpretive activity. The paper considers recent key decisions of the Court in which it details the proper approach to claims construction in light of the stated purposes of patent legislation.

“The challenge of trademark law in Canada’s federal and bijural system”, in Ysolde Gendreau, ed., An Emerging Intellectual Property Paradigm: Perspectives from Canada, Queen Mary Studies in Intellectual Property Law, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2008, 3-21

Canada’s constitution divides jurisdiction over the full range of legislative subject matter between federal and provincial governments. While intellectual property subjects have typically fallen within federal jurisdiction, some aspects of intellectual property protection are provincial in nature. This is particularly the case in the area of trademarks. Further, Canada is a mixed jurisdiction. While the three territories and nine of the ten provinces draw on the common law legal tradition, Quebec’s private law is drawn from the French civil law tradition. This federal and bijural nature of Canada’s legal system presents some challenges for trademark law. The challenges cut across a variety of lines. This book chapter explores the issues which arise from the tension between the federal and provincial levels of government and between the co-existing common and civil law traditions. Primary focus is given to the issue of the division of powers. The tension between jurisdiction over registered and unregistered marks is explored. Issues such as the constitutionality of various provisions of the Trade-marks Act, and the Trade-marks Act itself are considered, as well as the interrelationship between provincial legislation governing business names and registered trademarks. The paper also explores the harmonization of principles of “passing off” in the private law of both Quebec and the common law provinces.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009 11:47

Data Protection, Privacy and Spatial Data

“Data Protection, Privacy and Spatial Data”, in R. Devillers & H. Goodchild, eds. Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Spatial Data Quality, Taylor & Francis, 2009, pp. 211-220 (with Lisa Campbell)

In this paper, we explore the extent to which spatial data may be considered personal information for the purposes of data protection and privacy law. While data quality is an important objective in the creation of spatial data applications, we demonstrate that even relatively low quality spatial data may attract the application of data protection or privacy law, particularly when it is matched or combined with other data sets. The rapid development of a variety of applications and tools that incorporate spatial data pose significant privacy law challenges both for individuals and for the developers and users of these tools.

Thursday, 25 June 2009 11:43

Extension of Intellectual Property Rights

“Extension of Intellectual Property Rights”, Chapter 1, in M. Boyer, M. Trebilcock & D. Vaver, eds., Competition Policy and Intellectual Property, Toronto: Irwin Law, 2009, pp. 17-145

This very long chapter flowed from a report prepared for the Competition Bureau as part of a series of papers exploring the intersection of IP and competition law. In recent years, concerns have been expressed that the traditional balances struck in intellectual property law have been undermined through a range of practices, rules and phenomena that contribute to an extension of intellectual property rights beyond what was originally contemplated by policy-makers. This chapter examines some of the strategies used to extend intellectual property rights under two broad categories. The first is the expansion of intellectual property rights through increasing overlap between areas of protection. The second involves the assertion of weak or uncertain intellectual property rights. In the section on overlapping protection, two issues are considered in detail: the overlap between patents and trade-marks, where trade-mark protection is sought over functional features of articles, and the overlap between copyright and trade-mark. This latter overlap is examined in the context of the use of copyright law to prevent the parallel importation of non-copyright goods, based on rights asserted in trade-mark logos or product wrapper designs. The exercise of weak or uncertain intellectual property rights is examined in the context of reverse-payment settlements in patent disputes between brand name and generic drug companies. These cases, which have proven problematic in the United States, highlight complex issues arising from a combination of factors. The paper provides a detailed exploration of the issues which arise in each example, and explores the possible impact of these practices on innovation and competition.

“Faster, Higher, Stronger: The Protection of Olympic and Paralympic Marks Leading up to Vancouver 2010”– edited reprint of refereed article, in Vassil Griginov, ed., The Olympics: A Critical Reader, Routledge, 2010, pp. 344-357

The original (and longer) version of this book chapter appeared in the U.B.C. Law Review in 2008 (listed under refereed publications). The chapter evaluates Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act of 2007, with a particular focus on ambush marketing.

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