Vancouver Community College sued Vancouver Career College for passing off its trademarks, including the mark VCC. Vancouver Career College would advertise using VCC in conjunction with its full name, and this included buying the VCC Google AdWords.
Although much evidence was provided to the Court, including evidence that the TMOB refused to allow the defendant to register VCCollege.ca as a trade mark citing confusion with the plaintiff, passing off was ultimately not made out in this case.
In terms of internet searching, it was found that a web searcher is not taken automatically to a website, rather the searcher can review the search results, click through to a website, then choose to move forward or perhaps try another website.
It was held that the “first impression” does not arise on a Google AdWords search at an earlier time than when the searcher reaches a website, and it was found that the searcher would not be confused by the defendant's website.
The Court also noted that a prospective student must attempt to enroll at the defendant's college in person, attend an interview, take a tour of the campus, and complete a number of forms, all of which have the defendant's name printed on them. Therefore, no basis for confusion was found.