In Geophysical Service Inc. v Canada, 2018 FC 670, Geophysical Service Inc. (“GSI”) sought indemnification by way of damages from the Canadian federal and several provincial governments (the “Government”) alleging de facto expropriations of its intellectual property rights over seismic data it had either acquired from its predecessor or collected.  The defendants brought a motion to strike the claim as disclosing no reasonable cause of action.

On June 28, 2018, Prothonotary Tabib agreed with the defendants and ordered the claim struck on the basis that the allegations of de facto expropriation could not succeed as previous courts had already found that the copyright did not belong to the plaintiff.

As previously reported on E-Tips, in 2017 the Alberta Court of Appeal (“ABCA”) denied GSI’s claim of copyright infringement in the use of seismic data GSI had collected and submitted to regulators in the process of applying to operate on government land (Geophysical Service Incorporated v EnCana Corporation, 2017 ABCA 125). The ABCA found that under the regulatory regime, GSI had a limited term copyright to the data which was then passed to the public domain by legislation. The regime provided full answer and defence to claims of infringement.

Prothonotary Tabib found that the Alberta judgement meant that GSI never had, nor had it acquired, the full, unfettered copyright it alleged to be expropriated by the Government under the regulatory regime; holding that legislation cannot expropriate rights which never existed.  Prothonotary Tabib concluded that it was plain and obvious that GSI’s action could not succeed. 

Summary By:  Jennifer R Davidson

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