09 July 2008

Green Shift Inc. suing Libs for Commercial Advantage?

As more details are revealed about the spat between Green Shift Inc. and the Liberal Party of Canada regarding the latter's use of the term 'green shift', one has to wonder about the roles of the various players and the benefits which the owners of GSI think would accrue to them by pushing the matter further.

Now we learn that GSI owner, Jennifer Wright, intends to file suit against the LPC for $8.7 million.

While Wright denies any Conservative party offer to help with the legal bills, she has admitted to there having been "a bunch of [conservatives] emailing saying they want to give us money."

And there's more.
Green Shift has retained a former Progressive Conservative communications guru from the days of Brian Mulroney, Michael Krauss, to orchestrate her media strategy for the costly legal action.

But Krauss says he met Wright through mutual friends, and is not affiliated with the Harper government or the Conservative party.

The first word of Wright's lawsuit surfaced June 23 on the Conservative blog A Step To The Right, when an unidentified Tory blogger said he telephoned Green Shift that day to ask if the firm had formed a partnership with the Liberals.

The blogger said Green Shift intended to deliver a "cease and desist" letter to the Liberal party and added: "My instinct tells me there is also a very strong possibility of a lawsuit, one (in) which the Liberal Party would be unable to defend its use of a copyrighted item."

...Wright told a news conference she wants to ensure Green Shift is not tainted by partisan politics because of the Liberal plan.

Wright's protest that the Liberal use of "green shift" would confuse or alienate her customers doesn't mesh, given the hay-making which her suit will produce in the Conservative camp. In fact, Wright's latest move ensures that her company's image will be used politically, to disadvantage one political party and advantage another.

Wright said her firm has supplied both Ontario provincial Liberal and federal Liberal events with biodegradable cups and luncheon ware, and that she also allowed the Ontario NDP to use the slogan in the past provincial election campaign.

The legal notice filed by Wright's counsel, trademark lawyers Christine Pallotta and Joshua Spicer in Toronto, claims $8.5 million in damages for "passing off" Wright's trademark and $250,000 in aggravated and punitive damages.

It also asks for a court order that the Liberals destroy or remove "in an environmentally conscious manner" all paper and electronic documents it has containing the Green shift name.

Wright said her Green Shift trademark has been approved by the Canadian Trademark Office, but is stilling pending final registration.

The biodegradable catering ware Green Shift distributes appears to be ecologically sound, but it is expensive, possibly because of its origin.

A food-service executive who buys Green Shift biodegradable cups, utensils, plates and napkins says a container of the spoons costs $70, compared with $15 for plastic spoons.

The executive, who did not want to be identified, said the products are made with sugar cane and other fibres and are manufactured in China.

Suit aside, let it be noted that "ecologically-sound" and "biodegradable" does not equate with environmentally friendly. It takes a lot of carbon-based fuel for product to travel from China to Canada.

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