Parody Case Settles

| December 06, 2019

The appeal of Cooperstock v United Airlines, Inc., scheduled to be heard Tuesday, December 10, has been discontinued as the parties have reached a settlement.

While undoubtedly a positive development for the parties - who bear the cost and stress of the litigation - the development leaves intact the troubling lower court decision in United Airlines, Inc. v. Cooperstock, 2017 FC 616 (CanLII).  Mr. Cooperstock operated, a consumer criticism site targeting the plaintiff, United Airlines.  United, after years of tolerating Mr. Cooperstock's stings, in 2012 concluded that it could take no more and filed a statement of claim alleging copyright infringement and a number of violations of its rights under the Trademarks Act.  The lower court agreed sided with United in a controversial opinion. Mr. Cooperstock appealed.

Both CIPPIC and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened at the Federal Court of Appeal arguing that the lower court had misinterpreted the scope and reach of both the Trademarks Act and the Copyright Act, with problematic consequences for expressions of satire and parody, for criticism of corporate entities, and for freedom of expression generally.  The discontinuance of the appeal leaves those concerns for a future court to address.