Vancouver cannabis store ordered to pay Subway $40,000 for name infringement

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Budway — an unlicensed cannabis retail store in East Vancouver — has been ordered to pay fast-food giant Subway $40,000 for trademark infringement and damages.

According to a Federal Court of Canada ruling, the store’s name and signage were too close to that of Subway and the use of a mascot in the shape of a subway sandwich filled with cannabis leaves and with bloodshot eyes damaged the U.S. company’s reputation.

Subway’s legal team told the court they were notified of the store in the 1000-block of Clark Drive some time last year. The store is on the ground level of an old three-storey apartment building and its frontage is painted in Subway colours.

Subway subsequently sued the Budway Cannabis and Wellness Store, William Matovu and the Atlantic Compassion Club Society. Since the court action began, the society has folded and the business owner did not file a statement of defence.

Subway also tendered evidence showing Budway was using an Instagram account to promote the business name.

“The Instagram posts reproduced … show the use by “budwayonclark” of a “mascot” in the form of a submarine sandwich filled with cannabis leaves, with what are apparently bloodshot and half-opened eyes. This mascot appears in the video clip, smoking what is presumably a joint, with the legend: ‘It’s the way, bud’, appearing below it,” McHaffie wrote.

McHaffie ordered the business and Matovu to stop selling, distributing and advertising with the trade name Budway. He also ordered the company to destroy under oath all the Budway signage, packaging or labels it has.

The company must pay damages of $15,000, plus court costs of $25,000. If not paid, the amount will accrue at five per cent interest per year.

Calls made to Budway on Tuesday were hung-up on. According to B.C. Liquor and Cannabis, Budway is not one of the 50 licensed cannabis retail outlets in Vancouver.

A contact at online dispensary Budway — that does not use the Subway font — said they were not connected to the retail store.

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