Roué family filing lawsuit against Government of Nova Scotia to protect legacy of famed Bluenose designer
October 4, 2012
HALIFAX, NS (October 4, 2012) – The family of the late William J. Roué, creator of Canada’s iconic Bluenose design, is preparing to file a lawsuit against the Province of Nova Scotia in order to protect their copyright and moral rights in W.J. Roué’s Bluenose design #17.
“Unfortunately, after three years of being stalled by the Province, this is our last option to protect the Bluenose design and the legacy of William J. Roué,” said Joan Roué, great-granddaughter of William J. Roué and registered owner of the copyright for the Bluenose design, named “Design No. 17” on W.J. Roué’s drafting table.
In 2009, the Roué family reached out to collaborate with the Government of Nova Scotia when the much-needed refit of the then 46-year old Bluenose II was announced. It was initially the Roué family’s understanding that the schooner eventually launched September 29, 2012, in Lunenburg would be the next chapter of the Bluenose legacy—using the same hull design and sail plan as Bluenose II and Bluenose, and more similar to the original Bluenose on deck.
“To build a vessel worthy of the Bluenose pedigree, you need the Bluenose design and you need to preserve the integrity of that design to ensure she is a true representation of her heritage,” said Roué. “We have offered to negotiate with the Province so that it can use the design lines or a complete design package, or even obtain exclusive ownership of the intellectual property rights for the design. We did this in an attempt to protect the legacy of William J. Roué and the Bluenose design.”
After three years of unsuccessful attempts by the Roué family and their legal counsel to negotiate, the Province of Nova Scotia was served with a Notice of Intended Action in July 2012, advising of the Roué family’s plan to commence litigation against it and the other companies which the Province hired for the project. In the months since, the Roué family’s continued attempts for a private resolution have not been, in the Roué family’s view, meaningfully considered by the Province.
“We are proud of Nova Scotia’s commitment to our seafaring heritage and all of the hard work of the boat builders in Lunenburg these past couple of years, but unfortunately, for the legacy of William J. Roué and the pride of Nova Scotians and Canadians, it is unknown if the new Bluenose II is worthy of representing her legacy,” said Roué.
The Roué family takes great pride in the legacy of William J. Roué and considers it fundamentally important to preserve the integrity of all aspects of that legacy.
Over the past three years, the Roué family has been advised by the Province of Nova Scotia that their rights regarding the use of William J. Roué design number 17 have not been infringed, but the family has received no supporting documentation or proof. The family was surprised to also be advised by the Province that the Bluenose II is not an authentic replica of the original Bluenose.
“It is well known and documented that when the Oland family commissioned the building of Bluenose II in the early 1960’s, it obtained the necessary rights from William J. Roué to use his design number 17,” said Bob Belliveau, legal counsel to the Roué family.
It is the Roué family’s position that the Province has violated their intellectual property rights through the Province’s creation of a new Bluenose.
“If it turns out William J. Roué’s lines were used without permission in the design and construction of this new Bluenose II, then he deserves due recognition and the family’s intellectual property rights must also be recognized,” said Belliveau. “If it turns out his work was not used, the family must take steps to ensure his name, reputation, and the name Bluenose and its legacy, are not compromised by associating them with a vessel with no Bluenose heritage.”
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