Shifty Business (Update)

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?

Shifty Business

“Nothing is closer to my heart than toilet paper”
Jennifer Wright, Green Shift Inc.

Need I say more?

Some excerpts from Kady O’Malley’s live blogging on this morning’s presser with paper cup seller and publicity hound Jennifer Wright that was carried live on Newsworld.

11:09:29 AM
Question from Sun Media on how she arrived at the $8.5 million figure. “Marketing experts,” she says. Last year, business exceeded a million.

11:10:34 AM
Asked whether the launch has cost them actual business, she dodges the question; companies are “staying quiet” thus far, although some have asked her to keep their name out of it.

11:14:17 AM
Tim Naumetz brings up all those other uses of the phrase “green shift” and suggests that she has seen the term out there. Why does she have a right to the term? She’d be happy to explain, she says, but she really doesn’t. Apparently, there was a tussle over greenshift.com—owned by an American company—which the company eventually abandoned.

As for the British use, she… Is she seriously claiming to have invented the term “green shift”? She is. Wow.

11:17:36 AM

More from Tim, who has done his homework on what Green Shift, Inc. actually does: coffee cups and other supplies, which it provides to companies. “We’re here to be a program for those who want to be leaders,” she says. The symbol and the name Green Shift show that this is a company that people can trust.

11:40:58 AM
Wait, what? Now she’s saying that “Green Shift” actually applies to a “network of companies” that are striving to be environmentally responsible. It’s also the name of her company, and the program offered, and a “concept.”

Meanwhile, Michael Krauss is handing out examples of the Green Shift poster, which was printed in 2008.

She’d better come up with something more convincing than today’s incoherent performance if she hopes to succeed in court.

Update: CAITI is helpfully offering the name Green Incentive Plan along with the domain name GreenIncentivePlan.ca for the low, low cost of $10.45. Might not be a bad idea to make the switch. We can still call it “Green Shift” informally.

Update2: From the LPC’s official response via Macleans.

Mr. Ferguson noted that Green Shift Inc. does not have a registered trademark and that the Liberal Party is not using the words “green shift” in connection with the sale of any products or service, which is necessary to meet the legal test for trade-mark infringement.

“The Liberal Party has done nothing in announcing its ‘Green Shift’ that infringes on any valid trademark or other rights of Green Shift Inc. or any other company. In fact, Green Shift Inc. itself uses the words in a descriptive sense on its website,” said Mr. Ferguson.

Mr. Ferguson also said the widespread generic use of the words “green shift” or “green tax shift” has resulted in the right of anyone to use the words in so far as a tax plan is concerned.

“For example, last year, the UK announced a ‘Green Shift taskforce’ to combat the carbon dioxide emissions from the production, operation and disposal of personal computers. Do Green Shift Inc.’s claims also apply to the government of England?” he said.

“That being said, given our common interest and passion for the environment, we look forward to a reasonable and amicable resolution that is in the parties’ mutual interest,” said Mr. Ferguson.

Fairly predictable.

It sure would be interesting to dig into the failed case against GreenShift Corporation, especially given that the U.S. company was only formed three years ago, long after Green Shift Inc. claims the term “Green Shift” was trademarked (which it isn’t — or not registered anyway).

It’s a Joke — Get a Life

Kinsella and Janke… going completely mental in their own “special” ways.

It must be pretty sad when your brain becomes so profoundly addled with hysteria that it’s impossible to make the distinction between a serious threat and a harmless joke, albeit one that’s tasteless and unoriginal.

Update: How unoriginal is this joke? Check out all of the links James came up with. Now really, don’t you feel a little bit silly at getting so worked up about this? Oh, and I can’t forget this old chestnut, which really ends the discussion for me.

Earth to Liblogs…

You won’t answer my comments, or my e-mails and you still haven’t updated my information yet. Should I start taking it personally?

I realize there’s probably an enormous horde of people eagerly clambering to get onto the Liblogs aggregator these days, what with the tremendous popularity of the party, its charismatic leader and crowd-pleasing carbon tax plan, but still, come on!

Maybe I should join The Blogging Tories…

Now wouldn’t that be amusing?

The Pickens Plan

Noted leftie whacko and eco-Nazi treehugger, T. Boone Pickens, gives an extended account of his plan to break America’s dependency on foreign oil. With a combination of domestic natural gas and renewable alternative, Pickens offers an action plan to save America’s energy future.

No Atheists in Foxholes Allowed

What’s the world coming to when the faithless can’t even help fight hopelessly misguided wars in defense of America’s imperial hegemony around the globe without being discriminated against?

It’s interesting that the Pentagon spokesman in the video claims there’s no evidence of religious discrimination or proselytizing in the military when the widespread infiltration of the forces by extremist evangelicals has been well known to be a problem for years.

Links With Your Java

• Once upon a time, McCain said American troops would leave Iraq if the Iraqis asked them to. In the primaries, he excoriated Mitt Romney for suggesting a timetable for withdrawal (something Romney adamantly denied). Now, the Iraqis feel a deadline should be set for the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from Iraq. Expect another McCain flip-flop in 5, 4, 3, 2…

• At least his jokes are getting better. Responding to a question about a survey that shows increased exports to Iran, in large part from cigarettes, McCain quipped, “Maybe that’s a way of killing ‘em.”

• What happens when you take the Eucharist but don’t eat it? PZ Myers offers up a story that will destroy your hopes for a reasonable humanity.

• Well, it’s been a busy few days in Japan for Stephen Harper; first working hard to water down efforts to help fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa, and then helping ensure that the G8 leaders pledge on climate change is nothing but some completely meaningless prattle about a “shared vision”… Makes you proud to be a Canadian, doesn’t it?

• Stéphane Dion voted “best-dressed political cowboy” at the Stampede by Riley and McCormick, a well-known local western outfitter. But can he eat a hot dog properly?

• Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. If nothing else the controversy over Morgentaler’s appointment to the Order of Canada is a great way to weed out all of the kooks from the ranks of the Order. Good riddance.

• Seems that Dick Cheney isn’t on board with the “shared vision” on climate change. In an effort to avoid having CO2 regulated under the Clean Air Act a former aide has testified that last October, Cheney’s office pushed for major deletions (6 of 14 pages) in congressional testimony by CDC Director Julie Gerberding, the head of the CDC, on public health consequences of climate change.