Print Edition: January 9, 2013
Students succeeded in keeping the campus pub open for the rest of the year, but it seems the campus will still be waving goodbye to AfterMath Socialhouse. The campus pub will no longer be operating under their former name, due to a trademark infringement.
SUS president Shane Potter received a letter on December 5, 2012, ordering an immediate cease and desist towards any use of the word “socialhouse”.
Accupro Trademark services issued the letter on behalf of their client, Browns Socialhouse, a chain grill house with locations in Port Moody and Surrey.
Potter speculates the trademark violation was brought to the attention of Browns when they began scouting locations for expansion.
“Browns Socialhouse was inquiring about setting up business in the area,” Potter said. “So when they inquired about a liquor license, someone from the liquor board said to the effect of, ‘Oh are you guys AfterMath Socialhouse, or Browns Socialhouse?’”
SUS general manager Meghan McDonald said that the letter was an act of kindness from Accupro and Browns Socialhouse.
“They were very fair about it. They could have served us with a court date, but they didn’t . . . even when talking with them on the phone, there were no feelings of negativity,” she explained.
SUS was required to remove all materials using the term socialhouse, or, as stated within the letter, any variation of the word using numbers in place of letters. This includes any and all banners, posters, menus and advertisements.
“We have kept all the materials just in case we can reuse them,” McDonald said. “We don’t want to spend money trying to rename or rebrand.”
They were asked to send photographic proof that the name was no longer in circulation on campus and have gone about removing the name from their online presence, but McDonald says the name won’t disappear overnight.
“We understand that the term AfterMath Socialhouse might be in common vernacular around campus . . . we can’t help that,” McDonald explained.
After realizing that at least half of the campus pub’s name was in violation of a registered trademark agreement, McDonald also researched trademarks for the term AfterMath on the Canadian International Property Office’s (CIPO) website to make sure it wasn’t also in violation.
“The only one I could find is in Ottawa,” she explained. “I believe it is a design group. They don’t go in to detail, but they use the term AfterMath in their name and it is trademarked.”
McDonald says that this trademark could spur SUS to change the name of the pub altogether.
“[It’s] not good business practice to use a term that has been trademarked and risk our organization being opened up to that kind of suit,” she said.
SUS is currently consulting with their legal team to plan their next move. For now, the pub will operate under the generic name Campus Lounge until SUS better understands their position going forward.
Whether or not they have to completely rebrand, McDonald doesn’t expect a quick resolution.
“This is probably going to be [a] long process of can-we-trademark, what-can-we-trademark, then going [through] the process of trademarking,” she said, speculating that the pub most likely won’t have another name until fall.
The pub is still slated to open with the new semester, and business will operate as usual. McDonald emphasized that the service provided by the previously-named AfterMath Socialhouse staff will not be affected – just the name.