The Corporate World Responds

August 7th, 2013

The Canadian Standards Association has trade-marked the term “CSA.”  To most people, this means that one cannot use that acronym to pass one’s self off as being the Canadian Standards Association.  To CSA however, it means that nobody is allowed to refer to the Canadian Standards Association as “CSA” without their permission. 

Then CSA went one step further.  They claimed that the letters “C,” “S,” and “A,” when used in conjunction as “CSA,” are unique to the Canadian Standards Association.  In CSA’s words, the acronym is “distinctive to the Plaintiff.”

The problem for CSA is that there are several hundred recognized uses of the acronym “CSA.”  Its not unique to them at all.  So if the term isn’t unique to CSA, and if they’re suing us for using “their” term without paying a fee to do so, then presumably all of the other companies which use the term “CSA” are paying fees to the Canadian Standards Association.

RestoreCSA decided to test this.  We sent letters to the various Canadian companies which regularly and officially use the acronym “CSA,” asking them if they were “licensed by the Canadian Standards Association” to use the acronym “CSA.” 

Among the respondents, the Canadian Space Agency, also known as “CSA,” advised that they do not have any license in place with the Canadian Standards Association, nor do they pay any fees to them.  The Canadian Securities Administrators (aka: CSA) went a step further, advising that “the Canadian Securities Administrators are not required to be licensed by the Canadian Standards Association to use the acronym ‘CSA’.”  In other words, these companies aren’t paying and they don’t have to. 

This is important because uses the acronym “CSA” in discussing the CSA.  If our use of this acronym is truly unacceptable without license from the Canadian Standards Association, then every other such use is equally illegal.  Conversely, if the acronym “CSA” is not distinctive to them, then anyone can use the acronym to refer to any entity without penalty so long as one doesn’t pass one’s self off as being the entity referred to.  And its pretty clear that the Canadian Standards Association doesn’t run this website.

Also worth noting, the Canadian Standards Association has separately trade-marked the term “CSA” in the United States.  Inquiries are being sent to the various CSA companies in the U.S. to see if their use of “CSA” has been licensed by the Canadian Standards Association.  RestoreCSA will post any interesting responses received in the coming months.