Constellation Brands Inc., et al. v. Pinnacle Estates Inc.

(Federal) (Civil) (By Leave)




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Intellectual property – Trade-marks – Confusion – Whether the Trade-Marks Opposition Board misapplied Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc., 2011 SCC 27, [2011] 2 S.C.R. 387 – Whether the Trade-Marks Opposition Board’s decision was unreasonable – Whether standard of review applicable in trade-mark law should be aligned with standard applicable in copyright law.

The respondent, Domaines Pinnacle Inc. (“Pinnacle”), produces apple-based alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and foods. In 2004, it applied to register a word and design mark in relation to the sale of its products. The applicants (“Constellation”) are producers and distributors of wine, and they opposed Pinnacle’s application on the basis that its applied-for mark was confusing with their word mark “Pinnacles” which was registered in relation to the sale of grape wine. The Trade-Marks Opposition Board (“Board”) rejected Constellation’s statement of opposition. The Federal Court allowed Constellation’s appeal on the basis that the Board erred in its determination of the degree of resemblance between the marks. In particular, it found that the Board should have considered all the potential uses of Constellation’s mark, not just its actual use. The Federal Court of Appeal allowed Pinnacle’s appeal. In its view, while the Federal Court correctly stated that the applicable standard of review was reasonableness, it effectively applied the correctness standard. Applying the reasonableness standard, the Federal Court of Appeal concluded that the Board’s decision was reasonable.

Lower Court Rulings

September 16, 2015
Federal Court

T-1971-13, 2015 FC 1083
Appeal allowed; Board’s decision set aside; matter remitted to Board for reconsideration
November 28, 2016
Federal Court of Appeal

A-449-15, 2016 FCA 302
Appeal allowed