ICBC loses case against owner …

  • AuthorPalmer IP
  • Date 10 October 2014
  • CategoryNews

ICBC loses case against owner of website. When filing a trademark application in Canada, one thing to keep in mind is whether or not it resembles, or be confused with or mistaken for another company or persons mark. An official mark can be a crest, emblem, sign, flag, etc. which is owned by a public authority, the Canadian Armed Forces, or a university. Official marks are prohibited to become registered trademarks. ICBC is an official mark in Canada.

Clearance searches are highly recommended in order to avoid collision with existing common law or registered marks.

ICBC is a provincial Crown corporation which provides universal automobile insurance to motorists in British Columbia. In 2009, ICBC commenced action[1] against a corporation using the website “” as a free advice site with recommended providers. The trial court found that the corporation was merely using the domain name as an advertising tool for a law practice operated by the husband of the company owner. The website offers free advice on dealing with ICBC with an option to purchase a more detailed “ICBC Claim Guide”. The website also provides links to resources such as plaintiff side (against ICBC) lawyers, doctors, chiropractors and other professionals.

While “ICBC” is an official mark, the owner of was able to establish that people selecting the web site would bnot be confused and think they were going to an ICBC site.  A disclaimer was also provided on the defendant’s site indicating that it is not affiliated with ICBC. The trial judge granted the relief ICBC sought, in respect to the sales of the “ICBC Claim Guide” and dismissed the rest of the claim. The dismissal was upheld on appeal.

If you have any questions regarding trademark matters or have an idea to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact us by telephone at 604-677-7727 or by email at info[at]

By Alexandra Fabbro and Dean Palmer


[1] Insurance Corporation of British Columbia v. Stainton Ventures Ltd., 2014 BCCA 296 (CanLII)