OTTAWA – A family-owned Canadian garbage business is claiming victory over huge American moving company U-Haul International in a David-versus-Goliath battle involving whose U-themed brands deserve trademark protection in Canada.
The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling denying U-Haul two trademarks because they too closely resemble the brand of U Box It, a small waste management services company in the Greater Toronto Area.
Both U-Haul and U Box It supply large boxes or bins to be filled by customers and then hauled away — although U-Haul boxes are delivered to the customers’ new address and U Box It’s bins go to landfill sites.
U-Haul applied in October 2009 to register four trademarks in Canada. Two that contain the name U-Haul were accepted: U-Haul U-Box and U-Haul U-Box We-Haul.
But the Canadian trademark office denied the third and fourth: U-Box and U-Box We-Haul. It noted that U Box It’s trademark had been registered in February 2008 after two years of use and that the names were similar enough to confuse customers.
In her written ruling, judge Judith Woods disagreed with U-Haul’s contention that the two services were so dissimilar that confusion was unlikely.