Royal Canadian Mint Takes Legal Action against Royal Australian Mint

19 Jan 2018  Fri

The Canadian Mint wants Australia’s 500,000 commemorative $ 2 coins to be either turned over or destroyed. The Royal Canadian Mint is suing its Australian counterpart over the way it prints red poppies on its commemorative Remembrance Day coins.

From the documents filed in Australia’s Federal Court, the Canadian Mint accuses the Australian Mint of copying their pattern. The Mint is known for its cutting-edge coin technologies. As a crown corporation mandated to operate in anticipation of profit, the technologies are important and the Mint takes all measures to protect its intellectual property rights.

There was a lot of debate over the alleged infringements, therefore officials decided to hire lawyers. The court filings are dated Dec. 22, 2017. While the Royal Canadian Mint is a Crown corporation allowed to sue other parties with its corporate name, the Royal Australian Mint is part of the Australian government — so the respondent in the case is, in fact, the Commonwealth of Australia.

The Royal Canadian Mint got in touch with its Australian counterpart two years earlier to notify them of the existence of a patent on printing technology. The Australians had replied that they felt their methods different than theirs.

The next two years, the two parties discussed the matter over several phones and letters, but nothing came out of it.

The statement of claim clarifies that the Canadian mint first applied for a patent on a “method of printing an image on a metallic surface, particularly on a coin surface” in 2006. The patent was open for public inspection from 2007 and granted in 2013.

The applicants say they are aware of “infringing” Australian coins printed with coloured ink “by forming a plurality of macropores of about 0.1 to about 0.5 mm across in a designated pattern on a portion of the metal surface, forming a plurality of micropores within the macropores, cleaning the surface, applying the ink and drying the ink.”

The Canadian Mint wants the $2 million Australian coins to be destroyed and also they are asking the Australian Mint be permanently restrained from infringing the patent and from “making, selling, supplying or otherwise disposing of, using or keeping the infringing coins” without license or authority. They also want the Australians to admit they have infringed the patent and to hand over or destroy all advertising and promotional materials related to the Australian coins, and to either surrender profits or pay damages.

If the court passes the judgement in favour of Canadian Mint, then this would mean no small change in the way the Australian Mint operates. A quick scan of its website shows a variety of coins have been printed with colour since 2012.

The case could have implications beyond the use of Canadian and Australian coins within their markets. Both businesses are competitive commercial operations that seek contracts in other countries. A 2016 annual report from the Canadian mint states its foreign circulation business had risen 33 percent over 2015, with revenue of $63.1 million.

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