SCC Case Information
Claude Robinson, et al. v. France Animation S.A., et al.
(Quebec) (Civil) (By Leave)
Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch) for information purposes only.
Intellectual property - Copyright Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C 42 - Infringement - Scope of terms “cinematographic work” and “maker” within meaning of s. 2 of Copyright Act - Tests for compensation for copyright infringement within meaning of s. 35 of Copyright Act - Tests for damages for moral, psychological or physical injury - Tests for punitive damages - Standard of judicial review applicable on appeal as regards assessment of facts, presumptions based on facts and determination of quantum - Solicitor client costs - Whether soundtrack specifically ordered to be incorporated into cinematographic production is integral part of cinematographic work - Whether remedies conferred on owners of copyright, including right to “just part” of profits under s. 35 of Copyright Act, entitle owners to joint and several damages on profits made by infringers from infringement - Whether Court of Appeal erred in substituting its findings of fact and presumptions based on facts for those of trial judge, including in relation to quantum awarded under various heads of damages provided for in Copyright Act - Whether award of general or aggravated damages for moral, psychological or physical injury is limited to amount determined by applying trilogy including Andrews v. Grand & Toy Alberta Ltd.,  2 S.C.R. 229 - Whether Court of Appeal erred in law in substituting its findings of fact in all respects, and particularly by intervening with respect to quantum of damages and joint and several nature of award, without having benefit of body of facts that trial judge had to assess and weigh.
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.