Contests and Sweepstakes

Ontario Trademark Lawyers has extensive experience in helping advertisers and promoters run successful nationwide contests and sweepstakes. In Canada, every province has a different set of rules regarding contests and sweepstakes. Our lawyers are able to help you run your promotion or marketing contest within the provincial laws, while giving you the confidence that you are handling the details adequately.

In Canada, promotional contests are generally governed by the federal Competition Act and Criminal Code, as well as the privacy legislation and contract law. In addition, Quebec has a regulatory regime that is separate from governing contests, which means that Quebec requirements should indeed be complied with.

At Ontario Trademark Lawyers, we work with in-house lawyers, marketing departments, advertising agencies, and sweepstakes administrators to help ensure the ethics and compliance of advocacy of all variations.

Given that the unwarranted conveyance of a promotional contest can lead to civil or criminal culpability, it is important to survey prospective promotional contests for compliance with key federal and provincial laws.

Operating contests in Canada typically includes the preparation of short rules and long rules, a skill-testing question and a review of creative materials for misleading advertising conformity.

Short Rules Include all of the required Competition Act disclosure requirements for point-of-purchase materials (e.g., print and in-store marketing, social media and Internet sites, packaging and labeling, television spots, etc.)

Long Rules ensure that definite rules are prepared that reflect the requirements of the contest, cover possible contingencies (e.g., technical problems) and that set out the details of the promotion as lucidly as possible – for example, eligibility requirements; prize descriptions, number and values; draws and award of prizes; and restitution and releases. Rules or precedence’s downloaded from the web rarely accurately reflect a particular promotion. Like all law, a lawyer should not only understand what each provision means, but all rules should be relevant to the particular promotion. In this regard, contests are contracts, and so if you as a promoter want to rely on the rules in the event of an issue, they should be as accurate and precise as possible.

Generally speaking, there are two types of contests. These are skill contests or consumer generated content contests, and those prizes are awarded randomly. Some of the types of skill contests may include judged essays, art competitions, sporting events, sales competitions, etc. Some common types of random selection contests include contests where winners are selected at random through a draw or raffle held by the promoter, instant win type winner selections, prize vaults where entrants are given numbers or codes to enter, scratch-and-win type promotions where entrants see whether they have won a prize, etc. Sometimes promoters prefer random draw contests, which are generally relatively easy to prepare and run. Other promoters like to have contestants more involved and producing more content. In any event, a wide variety of promotions can be run in Canada and are really only limited by promoters’ ability and inventiveness assuming the basic Canadian legal requirements are met.

There is a common misconception that contests are illegal in Quebec. Contests are not illegal in Quebec; there are just a few additional requirements that need to be met in addition to those required for the rest of Canada. These additional requirements include: filing the rules and creative copy 30 days before contest launch; translating contest rules; paying a duty to the Regie in Quebec; and a filing on the completion of the contest with a notice of prize awards, winners, etc. There are also some specific languages that need to be included in the contest rules for contests open in Quebec and it can also be prudent to run a contest concept by Quebec lawyer before launching a promotion to check any other specific requirements in Quebec.

To set up an appointment and to find out more about our Contests and Sweepstakes services, you can call us on 416-840-5572, or Toll Free: 1-888-672-7266.

Business hours
9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, 1pm – 5pm.
We work Monday to Friday, Saturdays and on holidays by appointment.

Contact Us:
Ontario Trademark Lawyers
WaterPark Place
20 Bay St, Suite 1105
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2N8, Canada
Phone: 416-783-8378
Fax: 416-782-2286
Toll Free: 1-888-672-7266