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Strijd Forces Canada escaleert

De Canadese overheid is 'Forces Canada aan het jennen'. De zaak begint nu erg principiële vormen aan te nemen. Een principieel democratisch principe staat ter discussie:

Hebben burgers van een staat het recht om de vlag van hun land op hun web site te gebruiken, ook al verkondigen ze daarop standpunten waar de staat het niet mee eens is?

Forces International wil deze zaak voor de rechter uitvechten. Daartoe zijn er twee initiatieven gelanceerd:

  1. Pierre Lemieux, een hoogleraar economie (aan de Université du Québec, Hull) heeft een e-mail aan de Canadese overheid samengesteld waarin hij doorverwijst naar een pagina op zijn web site waar hij zowat alle Canadese symbolen heeft opgenomen die maar een copyright kunnen hebben. Hij daagt hun uit hem te 'sue-en'.
  2. Forces Italië, bij name van een Italiaan met Canadees staatsburgerschap, heeft de Canadese vlag ook op hun site geplaatst en een mail naar de Canadese overheid geschreven waarin ze vraagt:
    Please proceed with the lawsuit against me; you have no choice, since I am in violation of your law.
Zie ook: Canadese regering dreigt Forces Canada het zwijgen op te leggen

Laatste Nieuws

Wat vooraf ging

Op 10 januari 2002 ontving Forces Canada de volgende e-mail van de Canadese regering (namen en e-mail adressen zijn verwijderd):

Subj: trademark infringement
Date:1/10/2002 8:17:23 AM Pacific Standard Time

<name>, this is further to our telephone conversation of January 9, 2002 regarding products identified on the Forces Canada Internet site that were infringing on a registered trademark held by the Government of Canada.

The flag symbol is a global identifier of the Government of Canada. It is used to identify federal institutions and is protected under the Trademarks Act (Section 9 (1)(n)(iii) of the Act). The flag symbol was approved and entered as an official mark of the Government of Canada on the Trademarks Register held by the Canadian Trademarks Office, which is part of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office at Industry Canada, on 30 September 1987.

As discussed, there is evidence that Forces Canada Internet site is advertising on the World Wide Web bearing the flag symbol of the Government of Canada. You are advised that your organization must take immediate corrective action with respect to infringement of this >trademark. In addition we require a written undertaking to immediately cease and desist displaying the flag symbol on the Forces Canada Internet site and all associated pubic relations products.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


613-957-2544 I <email>

I Facsimile/Télécopieur : 613-946-5187 Federal Identity Program, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Programme de coordination de l'lmage de marque, Secrétariat du Conseil du Trésor du Canada
400 Cooper St. | 400, rue Cooper | Ottawa Canada K1A 0R5

Het is onduidelijk waarom Forces Canada er uit is gepikt. Wanneer je met Google zoekt op de Canadese vlag krijg je bijna 3000 hits. Ook krijg je dan een pagina met allerhande Canadese vlaggen voor je website. Het ligt dus voor de hand dat hier politiek in het spel is.

Forces Canada reageert héél beleefd:

Date: 1/10/2002

Dear <name>:

Thank you for your written directive. I am arranging to have the flag removed from the FORCES Canada website as soon as possible. When this has been done, I will advise you. It will also be removed from any other materials used by our FORCES Chapter.

FORCES Chapters are grassroots, volunteer groups. We do not buy or sell anything. The only thing we "advertise" by use of the flag is our geographic locations.

I must tell you that this situation has produced incredulity, not only on our part but in our international Chapters as well. With this type of 'ownership' of what was a unifying Canadian citizen identification symbol, it's impossible to dialogue with counterparts in other countries on the basis of a "free" nation status.

Thank you for the very professional way in which you have handled this matter. I appreciate your civility.

Best regards,


Op 11 januari is de vlag van alle pagina's op de site verwijderd en Forces Canada bevestigt in een e-mail:

Dear <name>:

The Canadian flag has been removed from FORCES CANADA - What's New and FORCES CANADA

Please confirm that this Website modification is satisfactory.

Thank you and best regards,


16 januari, de Canadese overheid bevestigt dat aan haar verzoek voldaan is:

Subj: trademark infringement
Date: 1/16/2002 10:45:36 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: <e-mail>

<name>, I have visited the Forces Canada Internet site and concur that the necessary corrective action has taken place with respect to the trade-mark infringement issue identified in my E-mail to you of January 10, 2002. Thank you for your prompt attention to this issue.

My regards.

Formeel is het nu afgehandeld, maar de gebeurtenissen leiden tot grote ontzetting en veel discussies binnen de Forces organisatie. De emoties laaien in Canada hoog op, zoals deze post op een nieuwsgroep van een inwoner van Toronto laat zien:

Sheila Copps, Heritage Minister, sent out 1 million FREE Canadian Flags to Canadians last year as a special project to boost pride in our country.

OUR COUNTRY - Not (Corporate) Government of Canada.

The Canadian Flag is OUR FLAG, as citizens of Canada. We own that trademark that a couple of anti-smoking assholes in the Gov't says we can't use on Forces Canada.

I, for another Canadian citizen, am going to let them know that, and I hope those antis who did this choke on the flag when this shit hits the public fan.

Naast het feit dat inmiddels met de Canadese pers contacten werden opgebouwd, leidden de discussies tot de al genoemde initiatieven.

Pierre Lemieux

13 januari reageert deze professor in de Economie en regelmatig schrijver voor Forces Canada via een e-mail aan de ambtenaar op het voorval:

Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2002 19:10:56 -0500
To: <e-mail>
From: Pierre Lemieux
Subject: Your flag

Dear Sir,

Would you please confirm that the message below came from you?

If this is the case, would you be nice enough to e-mail me any information you may have on the theory that the Canadian flag can only be used by the feds (in wich case, of course, my own site is in complete violation of your laws). Would you please also advise me about any similar attempt, in the past, of your government to prevent others from using the Canadian flag?

I am looking forward to this information at your earliest convenience.


Pierre Lemieux

Het antwoord van de ambtenaar komt op 16 januari:

From: <e-mail>
To: <e-mail>
Subject: RE: Your flag
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 13:36:03 -0500

Pierre, there are a number of trademark protected symbols of the Government of Canada. These include the Coats of Arms of Canada, the Flag of Canada, the Government of Canada corporate signature and the Canada wordmark. Further information about trade-mark are available at this address: .

Requests to use the Canadian flag in business activities should be addressed to Canadian Heritage (Canadian Identity Directorate): .

Regarding the protection of trademarks, as you know, trademark infringements are actionable. Rest assured that the organization in question was not targeted because of its content nor was the site requested to close down. We have notified a variety of  businesses, and individuals for infringements relating to advertisements,  clothing, goods and Internet sites.


Pierre's reactie  wordt diezelfde dag nog per e-mail verstuurd:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your reply. May I suggest that you have a look at, and that you sue me? This would provide you with a unique opportunity to publicly explain to Canadians

1) that the Canadian flag is your flag, and

2) that I cannot use your symbols of oppression to express my opinions against you.

Of course, I am sure that Heritage Canada will approve my fighting for what remains of our traditional liberties in this country.


Wordt vervolgd....

Forces Italië

18 januari reageert ook de Italiaanse afdeling van Forces op het voorval door een Canadese vlag op hun site te plaatsen. Door hun ook de Canadese nationaliteit bezittende CEO wordt de volgende e-mail verstuurd naar het Canadese ministerie:

Dear Mr. <name>,

Please check the site, of which I am responsible.

You will find that I am in violation of your "trademark." I take sole responsibility for this act of individualism, as a Canadian citizen, against a once great nation.

I left Canada because, as a Canadian, I could no longer tolerate the violations of human rights perpetrated against smokers, as the Canadian Government has embraced junk science, scientific corruption, and systematic disinformation on smoking as its public policy. I do not intend to remove the Canadian flag from the above-mentioned site.

Please proceed with the lawsuit against me; you have no choice, since I am in violation of your law.

You may find that many other sites, in the near future, will be in violation of your law. Please report to the Canadian Government, and tell them to take that law and shove it - together with the antitobacco frauds. Nothing personal, Mr. <name>; we are both professionals: you have the duty to enforce the ownership of the State-Oppressor, and Ihave the duty to fight for liberty and truth.



Op 30 januari verschijnt een uitgebreid artikel in de National Post over het incident. Voor het eerst legt de Canadese overheid uit wat het verschil is tussen het 'Flag symbol' en de Canadese vlag zelf. Ze geeft daarin aan dat het vlag symbool copyrighted is en de Canadese vlag zelf niet.

Op basis van de uitleg in de krant schrijft de beheerder van de Canadese website een e-mail naar de journalist, waarin hij duidelijk maakt dat er een heleboel nog NIET duidelijk is:

Dear Mr. Brean,
I am the Web Hosting provider for FORCES-CDN.COM, and I first spoke with a Ms. Ovens from the National Identity Program when she contacted me about this issue, in trying to locate the owner of the website.  As a protection, I performed a screen capture of the website as it appeared at the time of complaint.  It can be viewed at
Your article which appeared "Take Canadian flag off Web site, government tells smokers' group"  was the first description of what their meaning of the word symbol meant.  To the best of my knowledge the federal identity program was describing the Canadian flag. 
The key to this was "The difference arises only when the two are printed on non-white paper".  So for the government symbol, the area surrounding the maple leaf bordered by the two red rectangles would take on the colour of the background.  From the screen capture, you can see that the small flag next to FORCES CANADA is on a bright red background.  This would mean that the area around the maple leaf would be the bright red shade of the background if this were the government symbol.
A Canadian Flag however would have a white rectangle surrounding the maple leaf as it appears on the FORCES Canada website.  So Clearly there is no government symbol on the website, but rather a Canadian flag, and this is the "flag symbol" they demanded be removed.
The next issue stated by the federal spokesman Mr. Dearn was that there was text next to the flag.  
This is the logo which the government uses and what was registered with the Trademark office:
You will note the text next to the flag symbol is very small print split over two lines.  The text appears in both English and French.  The font face used in the titleblock FORCES CANADA is a standard ARIAL font in very large typeface and bold.  This does not resemble the government font or style.
Lastly I ask you to note, that this page does not resemble a government web site at all, and it is very much a stretch for the Federal Identity Program to make such a claim.  You will also note the welcome which appears underneath the alleged "infringing" mark clearly states FORCES Canada is the Canadian chapter (hence the flag) of an international smokers rights organization.  Not a government office, not the armed services, but an international smokers rights organization chapter.
With this stated, we must now look for motivations.  Why would a government office prosecute a site for using a Canadian flag.  Is this some form of retaliation, retribution or harassment?
What was a National Defence employee monitoring the internet for the use of "FORCES CANADA" for in the first place?  Is this part of his regular job?  Does he smoke, or is he a non-smoker?  Is he offended by the idea that smokers do have rights?  Does he belong to an anti-tobacco group or association?  Was he instructed to do so by a superior who might fall into one of these categories?  I noticed you were careful to note in your article, that Ms. Hagen was a smoker, but the "burning" question is what are the enforcers attitudes towards smoking?
Also in the very same week, a complaint was received on another Canadian FORCES chapter (Toronto), this site flies no flag, but was accused of advertising for sale tobacco products, by the Regional Manager of the Tobacco Control Programme.  See:
I am not completely familiar with this issue as I do not host this site, and was made aware of it after the fact.
Are these issues related? And is this selective prosecution? 
Clearly a professional at the Federal Identity Program would be able to note the subtle differences in the flag symbol as they describe, and the Canadian flag.  Why would they make such a glaring and obvious error on their part?  Perhaps this is why the  reluctance to explain the difference to members of FORCES and myself.  Why did the cease and desist notices state  remove the "flag symbol" and only after the issue went public, did the tune change to that of "The combination of the flag and words next to it that ... could confuse some people into thinking it was a government agency,"   If this was the case originally, the Federal Identity Program employee should have simply requested that the page title be moved away from the Canadian flag.
FORCES Canada has existed on the web at that address for five or six years now, and have been clients of mine for several years now.
The real issue is the government of Canada, has chosen a logo, which is easily confused with the national flag of Canada.  Further, having registered a symbol commonly used which creates a situation which allows fraudulent claims of trademark infringement based on very subjective grounds. 
In essence, the government of Canada, is infringing on the trademark of its citizens by their inappropriate use of the national flag for their own use as an exclusive logo.  It is the government which should cease and desist infringing on the trademark of the people and adopt something more in the order of the Coat of Arms which was the standard for many years, or the Canadian wordmark "Canada" with the small flag masted on the letter "d" These are very distinctive, and would not easily be confused with a flag or titles places next to them.
Loosely interpreted as was the case in the FORCES Canada incident, is a direct blow against the right of free expression.  A government which can not except criticism by its citizens is the warning symbol of a totalitarian regime.
Best Regards

Dezelfde website beheerder zet een nieuwe site op die helemaal aan de problematiek rond de Canadese vlag gewijd is:

I have created a website: for the purpose of promoting the return of the national flag of Canada to it's people.  I decided to take this public when my requests for the proper protocol for displaying the flag were left flapping in the breeze by Federal Identity Program employees. This is when the alarm bells started ringing.  It was later that I found out, the story given by Ms. Ovens had suddenly changed when people started calling about it. I figured national attention might get some of these questions answered. As you will note that correspondence with the office were vague. cryptic and ambiguous, and feel this was deliberate.  As a journalist, you understand how important a free press, and free expression are a prerequisite for a free society.

When you get right down to it.  The "confusion factor claim" is akin to saying.  That a house or business should not be permitted to fly a flag, since it might confuse the public into thinking the building was a Federal Office.  The argument presented by the feds is pretty lame, and is leaking badly.  Thanks again for bringing this public.

I have also notified the Fed ID Program that Nortel

has a similar situation.  I figure I'll wait 30 days, and see if any action is ever taken on that web page.  I won't be surprised to still see it there, and substantiate my claim to selective enforcement.

Commentaar door Warren Klass, President Forces Manitoba

Wordt vervolgd....

De vlag Het symbool


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