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Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 | 1-2:30 pm
University of Ottawa, Fauteux Hall Rm. 106

CLaw’s lunchtime practitioner speaker series is back!
Join us on Monday, February 25, 2013 as we welcome Amy Thomas from the Ottawa Intellectual Property firm, Macera & Jarzyna LLP/Moffat & Co. Amy will be presenting a workshop on the ‘Art’ of IP, highlighting interesting “art” aspects of intellectual property law.

To give you a taste of what to expect, CLaw caught up with Amy to ask her a few teaser questions about life as an IP lawyer.  

CLaw: You come from a unique background, architecture. What made you decide to go into law from the arts field?

AT: Law is a great field for any background. I wasn’t ready after graduating from architecture school to go out into the world so law seemed like a good fit. Part of me thought that I would do construction law or maybe patents to help inventors and designers protect their work. I ended up doing trademarks!

CLaw: With an arts background, it can be said that you have been in your clients’ shoes – what do you think is one of the biggest legal pitfalls of being an artist and designer. What is one of the most common hidden legal entrapments that many artists are not aware of?

AT: Probably the biggest pitfall for an artist is to not pay attention to the business side of things. Getting the proper intellectual property protection in place for a business is vital. Big issues are protecting the name of the business with a trademark, getting copyright registrations for works that you plan to sell, and applying for a design registration for an industrial design within the one year statutory window for public disclosure (otherwise the rights are gone). One issue that is important for artists or designers, particularly as many artists and designers are sole proprietors, is to get incorporated. If the designer or artist is sued and they are not an incorporated business, the damages can come out of their personal property, i.e. house, car, etc.

CLaw: What does IP mean to you? What, in your words, does an IP lawyer do?

AT: Intellectual property is a growing field with many areas of specialization. An IP lawyer may choose from litigation, copyright, licensing, trademark prosecution, patents, industrial designs, teaching, managing international patent and trademark portfolios of large companies . . trade secret law and advertising and labeling laws, domain name dispute resolution are part of it too.

CLaw: Do you consciously try to intersect the arts with your legal career? Is the law able to satisfy your sense of creativity? Are you still active in the architecture community?

AT: No. Yes. No. The arts come and go in my work depending on the subject matter of the file. Sometimes it’s about licensing artwork for clothing, sometimes it’s about comparing logos or the substantial taking of an art piece or even computer software. The subject matter is the artistic part. The law does satisfy a sense of creativity in the literary sense, i.e. crafting a great affidavit or written argument, or finding the case that matches up just right, or coming up with an “outside the box” idea in order to win.

CLaw: What is it like working in a boutique firm environment? What advantages and disadvantages do you think this environment involves as compared to working in a large firm?

AT: In a smaller firm you get to know everyone. Being able to knock on a colleague’s door and get a quick answer or a new perspective on an issue is great. Bringing in business at a small firm is important too. This in turn creates the opportunity to develop the kind of practice and clients that you would like to have.

CLaw: Any advice for students looking to enter into the IP field, especially those without a science background?

AT: There are numerous lawyers without a science background who are doing IP. They’ve come to IP from the government, or having experience working for copyright collectives or in the music industry, going in-house at a corporation and ending up in the IP department there, or by developing clients who need IP protection. Joining a big firm that does a rotation in different areas will expose you to IP as one of the rotations – many non-science people get into IP this way. For patents and trademarks, there are qualifying exams. So one way to get in to the field is to pass these exams.

CLaw: “Balance” is the essence of IP law. How does this translate in everyday practice?

AT: True enough. The government gives a monopoly over the intellectual property for a limited time in exchange for disclosure of the invention, design, or art piece so that the public can benefit from its teachings and encourage progress and creativity at large. In terms of everyday practice, it is surprising which inventions take off, and which ones don’t, and how something that appears really novel and inventive has already been done, or a name is already taken or is too similar to someone else’s. Sometimes the Canadian Intellectual Property Office is not prepared to grant the requested protection and lawyers have to argue around the objections. This balance is what gives IP lawyers their daily living.

CLaw: Give us some teasers for the upcoming “Art” of IP workshop!

AT: What is the real value of a Coca Cola can? How do you get an original signature from a celebrity? Can music, smell, or colour be a trademark? Come on Monday and find out!

Space for the workshop is limited.
RSVP now to: or on Facebook.
Your spot is not reserved until you receive a confirmation e-mail.

Amy Thomas

Amy Thomas comes to the field of law from a background in architecture. She has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Carleton University and a law degree from the University of Western Ontario. Amy’s law practice encompasses trade-marks, industrial design, copyright, litigation and contract drafting.

Amy enjoys sharing her experience in intellectual property law and has given presentations at the National Franchise and Business Opportunities Show, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, eWomen’s Network, Business Network International, Inventors Association (Ottawa), among others. Amy has also written several legal papers and articles published in the Intellectual Property Law Journal, The Lawyers Weekly, Canadian Architect and the International Trade-mark Association Special Reports.

Cinar v Robinson – CLaw and McGill’s Copyright Pub Night

Image from:

What: uOttawa CLaw and McGill’s Copyright Pub Night
When: Tues, Feb 12th, 8:00 pm (Pub Night); Wed, Feb 13th, 9:30am (SCC Hearing, Cinar v Robinson)
Where: Fox and Feather, 283 Elgin Street (Pub Night); SCC, 301 Wellington Street (SCC Hearing, Cinar v Robinson)

Cinar v Robinson is being heard before the SCC on Wednesday, February 13th. This is a a copyright case determining whether the cartoon from a mid-nineties series (“Robinson Sucroë”) represents a substantial reproduction of “Robinson Curiosité” – an educational TV series for children. Students from McGill Law will be joining students from uOttawa CLaw to attend the hearing. All are invited to attend. The hearing starts at 9:30am at the Supreme Court, which is located at 301 Wellington Street.

There will also be a pub night on Tuesday, February 12th, at the Fox and Feather with students and professors from both schools. This will be a great opportunity to meet fellow law students, professors and members of the community interested in copyright and creative industries. Join us for drinks, food, and good times!

RSVP on Facebook.

Upcoming Event: Art + Law National Conference for Visual Artists and Art Lawyers

The Creative Law Society is very excited about the upcoming Art + Law National Conference for Visual Artists and Art Lawyers being put on by CARFAC in Ottawa on June 8-10th, 2012.

When CARFAC first told the Creative Law Society about the conference we could not be more excited, and a number of our members will be volunteering at the event. Law students from any law school are invited to attend as well.  It will be a great opportunity for students to learn more about this area of law and will bring together lawyers with experience in arts and entertainment law, ranging from copyright and contract law, to estate planning, tax, and labour from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The conference will consist of panels on topics including artists’ legal clinics, copyright, labour. As well as panels and discussions there will be many social opportunities such as a gallery hop downtown Ottawa on June 9th. This is the first conference in Canada that brings together artists and lawyers, although similar conferences occur regularly abroad, such as the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in the United States.


When: June 8th to 10th, 2012
Where: The Lord Elgin Hotel, Ottawa

What: CARFAC is inviting visual artists and arts lawyers from across Canada to come together and discuss the intersection of art and the law. CARFAC’s work involves educating artists about their economic and legal rights. Many of the questions that our artist members call us about are legal in nature – everything from copyright to contract disputes and tax issues. This year’s conference will explore the unique challenges faced by artists and arts organizations when things get legal.

The conference will have two streams – one for artists and one for lawyers. Each stream has a different schedule and registration – some events will overlap, but the two groups will split for specialized panels and breakout groups. Law students are also invited to join.

For more information about each stream (artists or arts lawyer), information about the schedule, and how to register, see the conference webpage.

Creative Commons Salon Ottawa: Open Data | Twitter #CCOTTAWA

The Creative Law Society and The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) present:
Creative Commons Salon Ottawa on the theme of “Open Data”

When: March 30th, 1-5pm (with a reception to follow)
Where: Fauteux Building, University of Ottawa (FTX 147B)

David Eaves (
Dr. Elizabeth Judge (University of Ottawa)
Edward Ocampo-Gooding (Ottawa Open Data)
Joey Coleman (Journalist)
Nick Edouard (BuzzData)
Sébastien Pierre (MontréalOuvert and QuébecOuvert)
Tracey Lauriault (Carleton Geomatics and Cartographic Research

At this event, we’re also especially pleased to be re-launching a Creative Commons Canada affiliate. Athabasca University, BCcampus and CIPPIC have joined forces to form a new CC affiliate team in Canada.

With the Open Data movement exploding, this is an opportune time to find out more about it and discuss it.  Most major cities in Canada now have open data portals where municipal governments openly and freely release public sector data, such as maps, statistics and other government documents. The federal government is making open data the central focus of its Open Government Initiative in order to increase transparency and citizen participation.

This event is also not just for data users!  We will be facilitating a roundtable discussion for data providers to discuss compatibility issues between the licenses of different data portals.  Creative Commons, which already provides the default license for open data portals in Australia and New Zealand, is renewing its focus on data for the next version of their license suite (version 4.0).  This roundtable will provide an opportunity to talk about how governments can make their own data portals compatible with this international standard, and about the possibilities for adopting Creative Commons licenses.

See full schedule here.

RSVP on Facebook.