The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Before you click away, we have something to ask you…

Do you value independent journalism that focuses on the issues that matter? Do you think Canada needs more in-depth, fact-based reporting? So do we. If you’d like to be part of the solution, we’d love it if you joined us in working on it.

The Tyee is an independent, paywall-free, reader-funded publication. While many other newsrooms are getting smaller or shutting down altogether, we’re bucking the trend and growing, while still keeping our articles free and open for everyone to read.

The reason why we’re able to grow and do more, and focus on quality reporting, is because our readers support us in doing that. Over 5,000 Tyee readers chip in to fund our newsroom on a monthly basis, and that supports our rockstar team of dedicated journalists.

Join a community of people who are helping to build a better journalism ecosystem. You pick the amount you’d like to contribute on a monthly basis, and you can cancel any time.

Help us make Canadian media better by joining Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.

Online? You May Be Subject to US Laws

Courts adopt aggressive approach in cross-border Internet jurisdiction cases.

By Michael Geist 8 Jan 2013 |

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at or online at

In a world where data now moves effortlessly between computers on the Internet without regard for geographic borders, is the appearance of a website on a computer screen sufficient for a court to claim that a trademark has been used in the country? Is the use of a computer server enough to assert jurisdiction over a non-resident? Two recent cross-border cases -- one Canadian and one U.S. which both pitted a U.S. company against a Canadian individual -- found that it is.

The Canadian case involved a trade-mark dispute over the mark VRBO. Martin Hrdlicka, a Toronto resident, registered the mark in Canada in 2009. Just over a year later,, a U.S. company that owns the popular site, sought to expunge the trade-mark on the grounds that Hrdlicka was not entitled to register the mark and had no intent to use it.'s legal challenge was that the company had no operations in Canada, though many Canadians may have accessed its U.S.-based website. Trade-mark law requires some use of the mark in Canada, yet the "use" in this case was largely confined to the availability of the VRBO website on computer screens.

While the Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized the need for actual use connected to Canada, the Federal Court broke new ground by ruling that "a trade-mark which appears on a computer screen website in Canada, regardless where the information may have originated from or be stored, constitutes for Trade-Marks Act purposes, use and advertising in Canada."

The December decision has already generated fierce criticism within the Canadian intellectual property community, which fears that foreign rights holders could challenge the validity of hundreds of Canadian trade-marks on the grounds that the marks were used before registration on the Internet.

Computer screens with blurred borders

The U.S. decision similarly raises concerns about overly aggressive claims based primarily on computer usage. The case involved Jackie Deiter, a Fort Erie, Ontario resident who worked for the Canadian subsidiary of MacDermid Inc., a Connecticut-based chemical company.

Deiter lost her job in April 2011, but just before her termination, she transferred some company files from the company email account (stored on a computer server in Connecticut) to her personal account, which was based in Canada. At issue in the case was whether a Connecticut court could assert jurisdiction over Deiter.

A lower court ruled it could not, concluding that Deiter had insufficient connections to the state. Late last month, an appellate court overruled that decision, finding that Deiter may have physically used computers in Canada (she emailed the documents from a Canadian-based work computer to a Canadian-based personal computer), but the fact that the company computer server was based in Connecticut was enough to meet the jurisdictional requirement.

The Deiter case is sure to raise concerns since the case implies that mere use of a computer server in the United States may be sufficient grounds for a U.S. court to assert jurisdiction over foreign residents. Given the widespread use of U.S.-based Internet services, it opens the door to many more cases against foreigners before U.S. courts.

Both the and Deiter cases involved unsympathetic litigants -- the court sensed that Hrdlicka had registered the VRBO mark with the hope of selling it for a profit, while Deiter transferred confidential documents to a personal computer in violation of company policy -- yet the long-term implications of these decisions is that courts on both sides of the border apparently stand ready to use the Internet to expand traditional notions of jurisdictional rules.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Science + Tech

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Are You Preparing for the Next Climate Disaster?

Take this week's poll