Dion calls 'Green Shift' lawsuit 'deplorable'
Published Wednesday, July 9, 2008 10:46PM EDT
Liberal leader Stephane Dion called the decision to sue his party over its carbon tax plan's name "deplorable" Wednesday.
Jennifer Wright, the owner of Green Shift Inc., a company that helps businesses adapt to more environmental friendly products and practices, has launched a lawsuit seeking $8.5 million from the Liberals.
She says the name for the party's tax plan to curb greenhouse emissions -- "Green Shift" -- infringes on her company's name.
Dion says that the Liberals are not a commercial company and he sees no legal problem with the name of his green plan.
He said he was willing to work with Wright, but did not elaborate.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Wright said she had warned the party by letter not to use the slogan -- but her request was ignored.
"I suddenly just felt steamrolled,'' she said.
Wright told reporters about the confusion her company has faced since the Liberals unveiled their carbon-tax plan last month.
"We've been contending with phone calls asking if we have been taken over by the Liberal party," she said.
She noted that some people have even threatened to boycott her business because of an incorrect impression that her company has in some way endorsed the Liberals.
Wright said she delivered a statement of claim at the Liberal party headquarters Wednesday morning seeking $8.5 million "in general and special damages" and another $250,000 for aggravated and punitive damages.
The suit also seeks a court injunction to stop the Liberals from using the phrase "Green Shift." Wright said the trademark has been approved, but has not yet been registered with the federal government.
The Liberals say they've done nothing wrong. Liberal MP David McGuinty told CTV Newsnet Wednesday afternoon that anyone can search the Internet for the phrase "green shift" and see just how often it pops up in the environmental movement. He said he was personally using the phrase in the early 1990s.
"It's a bit mysterious -- in fact, puzzling -- why (the suit) is being launched now," he said.
McGuinty said he's confident the party and Wright's company will be able to come to an amicable agreement.
Wright has said a U.S. company is also using the term "green shift," but she dropped legal efforts against that firm because of costs and geography.
The Liberals have linked their website -- thegreenshift.ca -- to Wright's company website. There is also a disclaimer that states the Liberal website "is not affiliated with Green Shift Incorporated."
With files from The Canadian Press