Vancouver Career College v. Vancouver Community College

Vancouver Career College v. Vancouver Community College

Vancouver Career College and Vancouver Community College are fighting over who owns the acronym VCC.

The Vancouver Career College case is before the Supreme Court of Canada.

In this trademark confusion case, the issues are:

  1. Respondent bringing passing off action against the applicant with respect to its trademarked name and acronym:
  2. In a passing off action concerning online activity, is the element of confusion to be assessed solely when an array of search results are presented to an internet user, or when the user actually visits a defendant’s website?

Does this Court’s holding in Masterpiece Inc. v. Alavida Lifestyles Inc., 2011 SCC 27 concerning “first impressions”, as applied to the internet search context, mean first impressions of the internet search results showing a defendant’s domain name, or first impressions of the defendant’s actual website?


Vancouver Career College v. Vancouver Community College Summary

Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

The respondent, Vancouver Community College is a public post-secondary education institution designated as a college under the College and Institute Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 52. It has operated under that name since 1974 and has two campuses in the Vancouver area. In January, 1999, it caused the Registrar of Trade-marks to publish notice of “VCC” as an official mark; and “Vancouver Community College” as an official mark in October, 2005 under the Trade-marks Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. T-13. The applicant, Vancouver Career College (Burnaby) Inc. is a private college. It is regulated under the Private Training Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 5. Both entities share the same initials, “VCC”. Vancouver Community College brought a passing off action against Vancouver Career College with respect to the use of the initials “VCC” and for breach of its official marks. Vancouver Community College alleged that Vancouver Career College, principally through keyword advertising, misrepresented its educational services as those of the respondent. Vancouver Community College also alleged the applicant improperly use the initials “VCC” both internally and externally to the world at large. It further alleged the respondent adopted the domain name “” thereby creating public confusion.

David Michaels

David Michaels, J.D., B.Eng., CHRM is a trained attorney who holds certificates in Canadian Trademark Law (2012) and Canadian Patent Law (1996) from McGill University. He has worked in the area of trademark law in Canada since 1995 and in the USA since 1993. David is a legal blogger, brand consultant, an eCommerce entrepreneur, and an aeronautical engineer. Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the author's notes of the current state of trademark law and should not be attributed as opinions of the author, his employer, clients or the sponsors of The author does not warrant that these notes are up-to-date. Trademark law is constantly changing and it varies between jurisdictions and even within jurisdictions. This website should not be relied upon.

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