Restaurant and bar owners have a number of federal, provincial and local laws to consider in their operations. Among these is a requirement that they adhere to certain trademark laws when using special events or sports teams to promote their business. A recent dispute with the legal arm of the Edmonton Oilers left one Alberta bar owner without the ability to use the National Hockey League team in any promotions.
The issue arose when the team told the bar owner, who only sells Alberta craft beer, that he could not use the team name in promotions unless he agreed to carry Molson products. Molson is an official sponsorship partner of the team. The bar owner was informed that if he agreed to carry Molson products, he could use the team’s logo and would have access to tickets and team products for promotions.
Besides being loyal to Alberta craft beers, the business owner argues that his bar is not a sports bar and has only one television and a small promotion related to NHL games. The team said its decision is about protecting its brand and taking care of its partners. Molson has been a sponsor of the team since 1979.
While most businesses facing situations like this choose to comply with warnings, legal action against a bar would be possible if it continued using a trademarked name or logo. However, there is still some confusion about certain restrictions, such as a business owner posting about watching a game on a personal Twitter account or using the term “Edmonton hockey team” to get around the trademark. It is recommended that business owners speak to a lawyer if they receive a trademark complaint to understand what is legally required and to search for a solution appropriate to the client’s circumstances.
Source: CBC News, “No Molson beer? Then no Oilers promotions, Edmonton bar owner told“, Travis McEwan, Oct. 7, 2017