Teresa Scassa - Blog

Teresa Scassa

Teresa Scassa

“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.

Thursday, 24 June 2010 11:38

Copyright Reform and Fact-Based Works

“Copyright Reform and Fact-Based Works”, in M. Geist, ed. From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, (Irwin Law, 2010), 571-597. PDF available here.

In recent years we have seen a dramatic growth in the number of websites, databases, tools and applications which use data from a variety of public and private sources to offer innovative information-based services to a wide range of users.  In many cases, the innovators are upstarts – individuals or small companies that see opportunities for new and useful applications. Although developers may rely upon the copyright doctrine that there is no copyright in facts when they create their tools, the state of the law in this area reveals many uncertainties. In an innovation economy, clarity around the status and use of data in new works is crucial; and the public interest is best served by facts remaining in the public domain. This chapter provides an overview of the current state of the law in relation to the protection of fact-based works in copyright law. It then considers the extent to which Bill C-32 clarifies, ignores or makes worse the state of the law in this area.

Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada, CCH Canadian Ltd., 2004 (with Michael Deturbide).

This book is the first (and only) Canadian treatise on e-commerce and internet law. It covers a range of topics which include electronic contracts, online consumer protection, data protection and privacy, internet domain names and trademark law, copyright law and the internet, software and e-business patents, the regulation of online speech, and jurisdiction and the internet. Since it was published in 2004, much has changed in this area of law. We are currently working on a second edition of the book, which we hope will be published in 2012.

Thursday, 10 June 2010 15:35

Canadian Trademark Law

 Canadian Trademark Law, LexisNexis (Butterworths) Canada, Inc., 2010.

This book is a treatise on Canadian trademark law. While a primary focus of the book is necessarily the Trade-marks Act, a number of other statutes are considered, as well as the extensive body of common law relating to trademarks. The book aims to provide a solid grounding in the basic principles of trademark law, while at the same time exploring some of the contemporary challenges in this area of law. These challenges are brought about by the international movement towards harmonization of norms and procedures, as well as phenomena such as the internet and electronic commerce, the growing problem of counterfeiting, and the use of trademarks in critical and parodic expression.

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 14:00



Dre Scassa a entrepris sa carrière universitaire à la faculté de droit de l’Université Dalhousie (1992-2007), où elle a enseigné plusieurs cours dont Propriété intellectuelle, Droit et technologie, Droit administratif, Droit public, Droit des biens et Responsabilité professionnelle. Elle a agi come vice-doyenne de la faculté de droit de Dalhousie (2000-2004) et comme directrice adjointe (2001-2005) puis directrice (2005-2007) de l’Institut de droit et technologie de l'institution.  Elle s'est jointe à la Faculté de droit de l’Université d’Ottawa en juillet 2007 et elle a été nommée à la Chaire de recherche du Canada en droit de l’information à l'automne de la même année. Elle enseigne les cours Introduction à la propriété intellectuelle et industrielle et Property Law. E

Dre Scassa est l’auteure du livre
Canadian Trademark Law (LexisNexis/Butterworths, 2010), et a co-auteure du livre Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada, 2e ed. (CCH Canadian Ltée., 2012).  Ses recherches récentes portent sur la propriété intellectuelle, le droit à la vie privée et le droit et la technologie.  Parmi ses plus récentes publications figurent des articles sur le marketing insidieux, la protection des compilations de faits en droit d’auteur, les données géospatiales et le droit, et le gouvernement ouvert et les données libres.  Elle a aussi publié plusieurs articles concernant les données géospatiales et le droit à la vie privée. Dre Scassa travaille présentement sur un projet de recherche interdisciplinaire sur les questions juridiques soulevées par les systèmes d’information géographiques (en particulier les questions de propriété intellectuelle et du droit à la vie privée). Elle travaille aussi sur des projets concernant les droits de propriété intellectuelle dans le science citoyenne, le gouvernement ouvert, la liberté d'expression et les marques de commerce, et la vie privée.

Dre Scassa était membre du Comité consultatif externe du Commissariat à la protection de la vie privée du Canada sous le régime du Commissaire Jennifer Stoddart.  Elle est présentement membre du Comité consultatif sur le gouvernement ouvert du gouvernement fédéral, membre du conseil d
e l'Association Canadienne des professeur(e)s de droit, et membre du conseil de IT.Can (Canadian Information Technology Law Association).


Tuesday, 07 June 2011 13:53


I began academic career at Dalhousie Law School (1992-2007), where I taught many courses, including Intellectual Property, Law and Technology, Administrative Law, Public Law, Property Law and Professional Responsibility. I also served as Associate Dean of the Law School (2000-2004), and as Associate Director (2001-2005) and Director (2005-2007) of Dalhousie’s Law and Technology Institute. I am co-founder (with Michael Deturbide) of the Canadian Journal of Law and Technology, which I co-edited for seven years. I joined the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section of the University of Ottawa in July 2007, and was awarded the Canada Research Chair in Information Law in the fall of 2007.  I currently teach Introduction à la propriété intellectuelle et industrielle and Property Law. I am cross-appointed to the School of Information Studies at the University of Ottawa, and I am a member of the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre at Carleton University.

I am the author of Canadian Trademark Law (LexisNexis/Butterworths, 2010) and co-author (with Michael Deturbide) of the book Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada, 2d ed. (CCH Canadian Ltd., 2012). This book won the 2012 Walter Owen Book Prize from the Foundation for Legal Research. I am also co-author (with Steve Coughlan, Rob Currie and Hugh Kindred) of the book Law Beyond Borders: Extraterritorial Jurisdiction in an Age of Globalization (Irwin Law, 2014), and co-editor of Intellectual Property for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Approaches (Irwin Law, 2014). My recent research has focused on intellectual property , privacy and law and technology. I have ongoing research projects on trademarks and the freedom of expression, on intellectual property issues in citizen science, on legal issues in digital cartography, and on various issues related to open government and open data. I am currently involved in the interdisciplinary SSHRC-funded Geothink research project that explores how the Geoweb 2.0 is transforming government-citizen interactions.  A full list of my publications, with hyperlinks to online materials can be found here.

I was pleased to serve as a member of the External Advisory Committee to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada during Jennifer Stoddart's tenure as Privacy Commissioner. I am currently a member of the Canadian Government Advisory Panel on Open Government, a member of the Board of Directors of IT.Can (Canadian Information Technology Law Association), a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers, and a member of the Canadian Geomatics Round Table: Legal and Policy Dimension Task Team.

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Canadian Trademark Law

Published in 2015 by Lexis Nexis

Canadian Trademark Law 2d Edition

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Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada, 2nd Edition

Published in 2012 by CCH Canadian Ltd.

Electronic Commerce and Internet Law in Canada

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Intellectual Property for the 21st Century

Intellectual Property Law for the 21st Century:

Interdisciplinary Approaches

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