Tuesday , March 21 2023

Judge issues Order to Show Cause in Canvas.com case

If the appeals court denies request, Canvas might abandon the Canvas name entirely.

Picture of scales with the word "lawsuit" imposted on top in a box

U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball has granted an Order to Show Cause after recruiting site Canvas failed to stop using the brand Canvas after the judge’s deadline.

Kimball granted a preliminary junction on January 5 in favor of Instructure (NYSE: INST), a company that says Canvas is infringing its trademark for Canvas. He gave Canvas 15 days to cease using the brand, delete all online posts using the Canvas brand, and stop using the canvas.com domain name.

That deadline was January 20, and Canvas is still using the brand and domain name.

I suspect Canvas is weighing the costs of ignoring the injunction while it lines up its alternatives.

First, Canvas hopes to get a reprieve from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. It has asked the appeals court to stay Kimball’s injunction and the court is hearing the request on an expedited basis. So, if the appeals court rules in its favor, it can continue to use Canvas.com.

Meanwhile, I suspect the company is lining up alternative brands if the appeals court rules against it. Switching brands is hard enough, but switching back to its old brand (Jumpstart.me) and then back to Canvas again if it prevails in the original suit would be even more challenging. If the appeals court denies its claim, then its best path might be to switch to an entirely new brand (after doing extension trademark checks, of course).

Yesterday, a lawyer for Canvas wrote to a lawyer for Instructure, saying that the company has been “working diligently” to comply with the order and rebrand to a new trademark. He also wrote:

As soon as we know when Canvas can cease use of CANVAS and launch a new brand, we will immediately let you know. At present, however, we do not have a specific date when the rebrand will be implemented, but the hard work that our client has been doing suggests that it will be done as soon as is reasonably practical.


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