Rogers suing rival BCE, says series of aggressive Bell TV ads go too far

    The ads went beyond promotion of Bell wireless products and acceptable comparisons with a rival, Rogers Wireless chief marketing officer John Boynton said in an interview.

    Rogers is all for competitive advertising and even comparison advertising, where one rival takes aim at another’s products, he said.

    “But when someone crosses the line and tries to disparage our brand, which is worth billions and billions, enough is enough. We have to do something to stop it,” Boynton said.

    The suit claims that Montreal-based BCE Inc. and its wireless subsidiary have depreciated the value of two Rogers trademarks, contrary to a section of the Trademarks Act.

    It seeks court orders to restrain the defendants from using the Rogers trademarks “or any confusingly similar variation thereof” and to deliver or destroy any of the materials used for the ads.

    Rogers is also seeking unspecified damages
    .

    None of the claims in the suit has been tested in court.

    A Bell spokesman said it was too soon for the company to comment

    “Bell has just recently been notified of this matter. It is currently under review by legal counsel. Therefore, at this time Bell has no comment,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

    In its statement of claim, Rogers takes issue with a TV ad featuring an animated cartoon where a cheetah, which a “scientist” character says represents Bell, and hare that the scientist says represents Rogers.

    “At the start of the race, the cheetah devours the hare but then gags and regurgitates the hare,” the statement of claim says.

    “The Cheetah & Hare ad disparages denigrates, discredits, tarnishes, diminishes and otherwise depreciates the value of the goodwill associated with the Rogers trademarks and Rogers brand. Rogers is symbolically devoured, choked on and then spat out by Bell,” the claim says.

    Rogers also says it never authorized Bell to sue the Rogers trademarks in the Cheetah & Hare ad or any other advertisement.

    Boynton said Rogers founder Ted Rogers is clearly “not happy” that somebody was taking a shot at the Rogers brand but he didn’t launch the action against Bell.

    “I don’t even think Ted saw the ads until well after we had been communicating back and forth with Bell. So this was not a Ted-driven command,” Boynton said.

    Toronto-based Rogers Communications owns Canada’s largest wireless company, ahead of Bell Mobility and Telus Mobility, which are owned by Montreal-based BCE Inc. and Vancouver-based Telus Corp., respectively

    Rogers also owns Rogers Cable, a chain of Rogers video stores, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Rogers Centre, Rogers Sportsnet and numerous other print and broadcast properties.

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