snIP/ITs Insights on Canadian Technology and Intellectual Property Law

Originality and Cartoon Characters – Supreme Court to Hear Cinar/Robinson Copyright Cases

Posted in Copyright
Barry Sookman

The Supreme Court recently granted leave to appeal in four copyright cases arising from the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal in the France Animation v. Robinson, 2011 QCCA 1361 case. Robinson alleged that Cinar’s cartoon Robinson Sucroë was a copy of his own work Robinson Curiosité. The trial judge found infringement and the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment, in part, but reduced the damages award.

The cases canvass many copyright issues including:

  • the application of the standard of originality to partially completed work
  • the test for infringement when there has been substantial alterations and improvements to the original work
  • the relevance of expert evidence in copyright cases in light of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc. case
  • the scope of the terms “cinematographic work” and “maker” within meaning of s. 2 of Copyright Act
  • the application of the patent standard for calculating profits in a copyright case under the Supreme Court’s Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser decision

There is also a very interesting discussion of the basis for awarding punitive damages for copyright infringement under Quebec law.

For more on these cases, see Supreme Court grants leave in Cinar/Robinson copyright cases.