The Supreme Court of Canada has just granted leave to appeal in three related copyright cases involving Cinar, Ronald Weinberg, the Estate of Micheline Charest (Weinberg's late wife), Claude Robinson, BBC et al.
In 1982, Claude Robinson, an artist, drew the first sketches of the characters for a proposed children’s television services to be called Robinson Curiosity. A few years later, in 1985, the Copyright Office issued a certificate of registration for Robinson Curiosity listing Mr. Robinson as the author of the work and Les Productions Nilem inc. (“Nilem”), a corporation of which he was the sole shareholder, as the owner of the work.
Starting in 1985, Mr. Robinson and Nilem stepped up their efforts for the promotion and production of Robinson Curiosity, including with Cinar Corporation/Cinar Films Inc., but those efforts were unsuccessful for nearly 10 years. In September 1995, however, the first episode of Robinson Sucroe, a work produced by Cinar Corporation/Cinar Films Inc., France Animation S.A. and Ravensburger Film + TV GmbH, was broadcast in Quebec.
Since Mr. Robinson and Nilem found similarities between their work, Robinson Curiosity, and the work produced as Robinson Sucroe, they brought an infringement action in the Quebec Superior Court, which allowed the action in part. On appeal, the Quebec Court of Appeal upheld in part the Superior Court’s findings concerning the infringers but reduced several aspects of the monetary award made at trial, mainly on the basis of revised calculations of the profits and punitive damages.