It seems that since I last checked a few weeks ago, after having languished in the approval process for three years, Green Shift Inc. suddenly received approval from Industry Canada for the their trademark of “Green Shift” on June 27th — what a completely amazing coincidence! No wonder GSI founder Jennifer Wright waited until this week to hand deliver her lawsuit alleging infringement of her now registered trademark.
As you may recall from a previous posting on this matter, as a result of this rather suspect move, the expression “Green Shift” will now be trademarked in connection with untold scores of products and services — a truly staggering list that covers everything from urinal cakes to “consultation in the field of wildlife preservation and habitat management.”
Here’s some slightly more detailed information on the business itself:
Wright confirmed her firm had a record $1.5 million in sales of biodegradable consumer goods and environmental services last year, but said in an interview that success came after years of hard work and low pay, and the Liberal party is threatening the results of her work by using Green Shift for its plan to curb carbon emissions.
“If you look at my taxes, what Jennifer has earned, I paid myself $30,000 for seven years and even less,” Wright said. “If you want to know the real truth I live enjoined with my office, because I live, work, breath, eat, sleep, Green Shift. So yeah, we finally hit it. Up until September 2007, there was myself and two young university grads.”
Wright said when the dispute broke out that Green Shift was supplying the House of Commons with biodegradable cups, napkins and cutlery through a Hamilton-based caterer, Lewisfoods.
But a spokeswoman for Commons Speaker Peter Milliken said Monday the Commons has no Green Shift products, although it does use biodegradable ware from another supplier.
Wright, told of that, said she had been mistaken a week ago when she said products distributed by Green Shift were in Parliament, and that it was actually a branch of the Canada Revenue Agency in Ottawa that was using the Green Shift products.
“I know absolutely 100 per cent it goes into the Canada Revenue agency,” said Wright.
Green Shift also has an invoice showing it sent sample products of sustainable cups and other products to the parliamentary restaurant last year.
The list of clients the company is willing to disclose is limited.
A list provided by Green Shift’s bookkeeper, with Wright’s permission, was limited to the Merchants of Green Coffee in Toronto, a restaurant called Baluchon, another called Friesen Restaurant in Toronto, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Wright said the firm also distributes its products through Lewisfoods and Sodexo, a giant international catering company.
The owner of Global Distribution and Warehousing confirmed, also with Wright’s permission, that Green Shift has space in its Mississauga warehouse, although only since last year. President John Cosgrove would not disclose the amount of shelving devoted to Wright’s firm, but he said “she does a healthy business.”
Presumably, Green Shift Inc.’s lawsuit rests on two prongs: one is that the claim that it provides consulting services to different governments across Canada and that in order to continue doing so it needs to be seen as neutral in its political affiliations; the other is that the Liberals’ adoption of the words “Green Shift” is causing its clients, potential clients and the general public to erroneously conclude that the company has aligned itself with the Liberal party.
Personally, I find both of these assertions to be highly dubious, but then I’m hardly an objective observer. Even if the Liberal Party feels reasonably confident that Ms. Wright’s claim will eventually fail in court, one has to question the wisdom of simply forging ahead on this somewhat uncertain basis, all the while being mired in controversy and dogged by constant references to the lawsuit for as long as it remains unresolved.
Given that we know, courtesy of the poll conducted recently by CanWest Global, that only one in three Canadians has even heard of the plan and that even less that can recall anything of note about it, perhaps it would be prudent to stand down from this fight. Although some embarrassment may be involved, maybe a re-branding on the part of the Liberals might not be such a bad thing.
Update: The plot thickens.
…Green Shift Inc. owner Jennifer Wright denies the Conservative party is bankrolling legal bills she said could reach $500,000 as she takes the Liberals to Ontario Superior Court to stop them from calling their own environmental plan “Green Shift”.
“Oh my God, that is ridiculous,” Wright said Wednesday. “Right now, we’re paying.”
Initially saying she was not getting any support from Conservatives, Wright added: “Well, there’s a bunch of them emailing saying they want to give us money.”
Green Shift has retained a former Progressive Conservative communications guru from the days of Brian Mulroney, Michael Krauss, to orchestrate her media strategy for the costly legal action.
But Krauss says he met Wright through mutual friends, and is not affiliated with the Harper government or the Conservative party.
Hmmm. What’s that fishy smell?
“Right now, we’re paying” That’s a rather interesting choice of words, wouldn’t you say?