SkyChoice Communications, a provider of television, telephone and Internet services operating in many Canadian provinces, is challenging the use of the Fibe trademark by Bell Canada before the Federal Court of Canada. The petition argues that the trademark lacks distinctiveness, with a difference of only one letter between Fibe and fiber, a commonly used word.

Canadian trademark regulations generally prohibit the registration of trademarks that may be confused with common words such as “fiber”, which is increasingly used by telecommunications providers globally in the promotion of their Internet services. In order to ensure the success of the challenge, SkyChoice has retained the services of what it claims to be one of the largest law firms in the world.

Since optical fiber is now a key selling point when promoting fast and reliable Internet service, registering the first four letters of the word fiber as a trademark allegedly prevents independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from using this common word in whole or in part in their brand image.

“Independent ISPs already operate at a competitive disadvantage largely due to restricted or prohibitively priced access to incumbent fiber facilities in Canada, one of the countries with the highest prices for Internet services in the world”, says Serge Cormier, chief executive officer of SkyChoice.

In addition, a public legal fund has been established with the assistance of Freedom Fibers, an organization dedicated to increasing internet affordability in Canada. The organization wants to raise awareness of the high wholesale access charges levied by incumbents to independent ISPs for CRTC-mandated wholesale fiber-to-the-home access.