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Feature Article - November 23, 2006

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Feature Article - November 23, 2006

Cottage Life

Editorial by Jeff Green

By this time of year things are quiet around the cottage. There are battens on the windows, the boats are all put away for the winter, and the peace and quiet of winter is settling over the lake.

Over at Cottage Life Magazine there is a bit of a lull as well, so much so that someone seems to have seen fit to do an internet search of the magazine’s title on Google.

Much of the first page of results from a Google search for the words Cottage Life bring up links to the Cottage Life Magazine’s own website, and then a series of scattered pages start appearing: an article from the Globe and Mail; one about composting toilets; one from Eye Weekly.

Number 20, at the bottom of the second page of results, happens to be a page from Newsweb.ca, the website that is run by the Frontenac News.

Heart_and_soul

Newsweb.ca was set up in 1999 by David Brison and Jim MacPherson, as a project of the Land O’ Lakes Communications Network. Among the sub indexes of the site was a page called Cottage Life. It has links to seven articles, written by David Brison and Lloyd Jones, the most recent of which was written in April of 2000.

This was before David Brison bought The Frontenac News in July of 2000, when Newsweb.ca effectively became the online version of the newspaper.

You can’t find the Cottage Life page from the newsweb.ca home page, it is no longer listed, but it remains on the web, at www.newsweb.ca/cottage_life.htm. Check it out; the articles are interesting.

Cottage Life Magazine, however, was not happy to find this page. They contacted us and said it was an infringement of their trademark, and we should remove it from the worldwide web.

This led to a series of emails between us and the assistant to the President of Cottage Life, culminating in the following email from News’ Publisher Jule Koch-Brison to Rena Barrett, assistant to the President of Cottage Life.

Rena I honestly don't think our Cottage Life section will hurt your magazine in any way. It's 6 years old and is not a tab on our home page - it is not even easily accessible from there.

That part of our site was created by my late husband in the very beginning of our journey and I'm rather attached to it.

If anyone confuses those pages with your site .... well, what can I say? Good luck to them.

You are indeed very well known and we are indeed very local. Our articles are not of much interest to people outside our area.

Best wishes

Jule Koch Brison

About two weeks later, we received a letter from Cottage Life President Al Zikovitz, saying the magazine “owns Canadian Trade Mark Registration No. TMA429,772 and U.S. Trade Mark Registration No. 1,842,912 for their trademark COTTAGE LIFE.”

In the letter, Zikovitz said, in part, “We are concerned that the use of “Cottage Life” on your website implies a connection to our company and this is therefore somewhat misleading and violates our trademark rights.”

He then asks that an “alternative description be chosen for your website (and promotional material) and we ask that you make the changes within 14 days”. Otherwise the matter will be referred to Cottage Life’s lawyer.

More than 14 days have passed and the News hasn’t taken any action. We have checked informally and have found that it is unclear at best if trademark rights are being violated in this case.

There is nothing on our website that implies any connection to Cottage Life Magazine. The font used on the Cottage Life page is not in any way similar to the font used by Cottage Life magazine in any of their promotional material. Further, in large type at the top of our page it says “Land o ’Lakes Newsweb” – Cottage Life is clearly a sub-heading.

So we ask our readers to do ourselves, and our friends at Cottage Life Magazine, a big favour. Go to the web page newsweb.ca/cottage_life.htm and then let us know if it causes you any confusion. Does it make you think you are in the domain of Cottage Life magazine? Let us know.

PS. While you’re there, take the time to read David’s review of “The Dammed Lakes” by Lloyd Jones, and also the article by Lloyd Jones, “Dancing with Bears”.

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