Peter E.J. Wells
- Partner since 1981
- Certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada (the governing body for lawyers in Ontario) as a Specialist in Civil Litigation and Intellectual Property Law (Patents, Trade Marks, and Copyright).
For over 30 years, Peter Wells has practiced in the area of civil litigation with a principal focus on intellectual property and cases involving science and technology, such as product liability and environmental cases. He acts as trial and appeal counsel and provides advice and opinions in matters involving contracts relating to technology, intellectual property licenses and agreements including employment contracts for senior technical personnel, intellectual property in the academic setting, confidential information and trade secrets, infringement and validity issues relating to patents, trade marks, copyrights, and industrial designs.
A number of Peter's cases have involved parallel litigation in other jurisdictions requiring co-ordination with counsel and experts in the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Peter has acted as counsel in several court applications to obtain evidence in Canada for use in foreign proceedings. He also defends charges under several federal and Ontario statutes including the Food and Drugs Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Fire Protection and Prevention Act. Peter also acts as counsel in cases involving estates and trusts, including passing of accounts, applications for advice and directions, challenges to validity of wills, and variations of trusts.
Peter Wells has appeared as counsel in the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal, and at all levels of courts in Ontario, including the Ontario Court of Justice, the Ontario Superior Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal.
- Advocates' Society
- Canadian Bar Association
- Ontario Bar Association
- Chemical Institute of Canada
- Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (Fellow)
- Toronto Lawyers' Association
- Canadian Association of Law Teachers
- International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
- Special Lecturer in Patent Law (2000-2008), University of Windsor Faculty of Law, with Donald H. MacOdrum and Keith Bird.
Peter Wells has represented clients ranging from individuals to major international corporations in a wide variety of disputes including:
- Acted as counsel for a steel maker in a case brought by a manufacturer against several suppliers and subcontractors alleging that failure of products it manufactured was caused by defects in the steel supplied. There were several expert's reports which were contradictory. Peter obtained the agreement of all counsel to have all the experts attend together in a neutral metallurgical laboratory where they could ask the technician to perform tests which all them could observe together. As a result, the differences between the experts were resolved, and resulted in a conclusion that the product failures were not the result of defects in the steel, but improper processing during manufacturing;
- Application for judicial review in the Federal Court of a decision of the Federal government approving development in a wetland area designated under the Ramsar Convention;
- Trial of action for goods sold and delivered. Consignee of the goods alleged they had never been delivered and that the signature on the waybill was a forgery. Judgment obtained for vendor of goods by proving that the consignee had signed the waybill, but had attempted to disguise his signature;
- Defended financial institution in wrongful dismissal action – proved that employee had engaged in money laundering for relatives;
- Defended claim for alleged improper design of a chemical process which resulted in the plant not meeting design production levels;
- Trial concerning a $300,000 Ferrari sold by one car dealer to a second dealer whose dealership was under the administration of its creditors. The purchasing dealer was eventually convicted of fraud regarding the transaction, but the creditors of the dealer claimed a prior security interest in the vehicles taken in trade by the selling dealer which entitled them to keep the proceeds of the sale of the Ferrari and to obtain the return of the vehicles taken in trade. Based upon the Bills of Exchange Act and the Personal Property Security Act the selling dealer was found to be entitled to retain the vehicles taken in trade, notwithstanding the security held by the creditors;
- Action to enforce settlement of a copyright claim by a designer of a movie studio;
- Application to obtain declaration under s. 14 of the Copyright Act that estate of author owned the last twenty-five years of the copyright term (the reversionary interest) notwithstanding an outright assignment of the copyright;
- Acted for Russian trader of goods in Ontario proceedings brought by a bank alleging that payments to the Russian trader were the proceeds of a fraud on the bank. Co-coordinated with Swiss lawyers where parallel criminal proceedings had been instituted by the bank. Established that the majority of the payments to the Russian trader preceded the fraud on the Canadian bank resulting in the bank discontinuing proceedings against the Russian trader;
- Application for declaration whether changes to environmental regulations had retroactive effect with respect to decommissioning process of industrial land;
- Counsel at trial in action by homeowner whose basement was flooded with gasoline leaking from neighbouring gas bar;
- Counsel at trial in a case on behalf of a paint maker for libel against producers of a television programme which claimed that the product was unsafe;
- Counsel at trial in a case on behalf of a group of farmers whose land has been contaminated by emissions from a nearby factory.
- Counsel at trial and on appeal on behalf of a gold miner that had purchased a gold mine subject to a royalty agreement that was not as described in the purchase documents. Established that the purchaser was only responsible for to indemnify the seller for the royalty obligation as described in the purchase documents, the seller was responsible for performance of the royalty obligation.
- Counsel at trial, on appeal, and successful opposition to application for leave in motion by state trading company and government minister to have the action dismissed on the basis of the State Immunity Act. The activities complained of came within the commercial activity exception.
Estates and Trusts Cases
- Application on behalf of next-of kin to prove heirship when the deceased left no will. Application to remove Public Trustee as administrator of the estate. Passing of accounts went to the Court of Appeal, ending the Public Trustee's long standing practice of treating intestate estates it administered as "Crown Estates" on which it paid interest at 3%, despite earning a significantly higher return;
- Application to vary a trust to permit payments out to grandchildren to finance university education. Obtained special insurance policy to reconstitute the trust in the event of certain contingencies including possibility of certain beneficiaries having issue;
- Passing of accounts in inter vivos trust where accounts had never been passed since trust established in the 1950s. Issues of whether certain payments authorized by trust deed and the investment policy employed by trustee;
- Acted for trustees of an estate. Question of which was the last will. Solicitor who had purchased practice from prior solicitor instructed by deceased to make minor revisions to her "last will" made revisions to last will in the file, unaware that prior solicitor had drafted a later will which was not on file;
- Application to interpret a will, and determine the legal effect of a codicil executed in Florida that did not satisfy the formal requirements of Ontario law.
- Defended importer of food products charged with offences under the Food and Drugs Act, and Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act because he had substituted his registered trademark for the trademark appearing on the goods;
- Defended manager of a hotel operating the hotel under a Receiving Order granted by the Ontario Superior Court on charges under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act. Had charges dismissed on the basis that the Crown had failed to obtain leave of the Superior Court under the Receiving Order which prohibited commencement of any proceedings without leave and that the charge was a nullity since it alleged that a demand had been made for information, which the evidence showed was not actually made until the day after the charges were laid;
- Defended a construction company on charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act when a worker was killed. Not guilty verdict obtained on the basis that the contractor had taken all reasonable steps to prevent such an occurrence;
- Defended a crane company charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act when a bridge collapsed as a crane was being taken across the bridge. Collapse due to calculation error by the engineer supervising the works and crane company followed his directions – charges dismissed;
- Acted for a mine charged under the under the Occupational Health and Safety Act when a used compressor flew apart. Established that all reasonable precautions had been taken as compressor had been fully overhauled before being put into service. Failure caused by a prior owner's substitution of a 60 Hz electric drive motor for the original 25 Hz motor without changing the drive pulley, causing the compressor to operate above maximum speed. Documentation for compressor did not indicate the type of electric motor;
- Acted for manufacturer charged under municipal bylaws for discharging material into a sewer at levels above the maximum permitted. Charges dismissed as samples were not representative of the material discharged into the sewer and there was insufficient evidence to determine whether the permissible levels of the discharged material had been exceeded; and,
- Successfully defended chemical manufacturer charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act following an explosion at its facility.
Peter has also been extensively involved as counsel in litigation relating to the validity and infringement of patents and other intellectual property rights. He has acted as IP litigation counsel and has provided IP advice in a wide variety of fields including farm equipment, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and eye care products; chemicals and chemical processes; electronics and electrical systems; automated audience measurement technology, steel making, metal working and processing, lubrication technology; computers, information technology and computer software; video games; household products; personal care products; food products; biotechnology. He recently acted as counsel in the Federal Court of Appeal in a case that established that trade-mark infringement proceedings may be brought using the simpler application process.
publications and presentations
Peter Wells is the author of the chapter entitled "IP Remedies Profits" included in the Intellectual Property Disputes, Resolutions and Remedies text published by Carswell 2002, revised and updated in 2004, 2008 and 2011. Peter is the author of several articles and presentations on patent law and other IP topics and on various litigation topics, including a paper concerning whether changes in the law resulting from judicial decisions have retroactive or retrospective effect. Peter is also featured in many articles related to IP. Peter is a frequent chair and presenter at CLE programs on a number of IP and litigation topics. Peter's recent presentations and publications include: