A recent Ontario case is a rare example of parties seeking a judicial interpretation of a trademark settlement agreement. It also emphasizes the importance of understanding all possible translated meanings of a word before committing to refrain from using any translated versions, a challenge that often arises in a bilingual country.
In Skipper Online Services (SOS) Inc. v. 2030564 Ontario Inc., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered a settlement agreement that restricted Boatsmart from using translated versions of particular words. Skipper and Boatsmart were competing companies that administered online training for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card as required by Transport Canada. The parties had a trademark dispute regarding the words each party could use as metatags, which are “hidden keywords” affecting how the parties appear in search engine results. The two companies entered into a settlement agreement, wherein Boatsmart agreed to refrain from using the following words or “any reversals, misspellings, translations or plurals” thereof in its metatags: BOATER EXAM; EXAMEN DE BATEAU; EXAMEN BATEAU; BOATEREXAM; EXAMENBATEAU.