Canadian and Canatur spar over canopy patent

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thursday morning saw some officials and other interested parties sit in a meeting following a recent uproar in the Spanish-language media regarding a Canadian, a zip-line and a patent.

Businessmen, lawyers and other industry representatives with the Cámara Nacional de Turismo, or Canatur, promised a fight against Canadian citizen Darren Hreiniuk and his patent claim over canopy tours. Hreinuk claims on his website and in statements that he was the first one to come up with the canopy tour concept and wants compensation from other companies that allegedly followed in his idea.

A statement by the group recommended that all operators and persons in the tourism industry refrain from contacting Hreiniuk until they acquired criteria and enough claim to block the Canadian’s motion.

For those that do not know, a canopy tour is an established route through a wooded or mountainous landscape using a zip-line or aerial bridges between platforms built in trees. Usually in both instances, tourists are harnessed to a cable without interruption throughout the entirety of the experience.

This comes with recommendation from the group’s assembled team of lawyers and other specialists analyzing the situation.

Hreiniuk’s legal counsel issued a press release Wednesday saying that they were going to give 15 working days starting on June 1 so that owners and operators of canopies can contact them and reach an agreement to continue operations, the group said.

“We want businessmen to feel safe and supported by the chamber, as this is one of the most important tourist activities for which we are recognized as a destination worldwide,” the president of the Cámara said.

“For many years, we have improved it in aspects of security, quality and differentiation by private initiative. Many small and medium-sized businesses live in this country and we will not allow abuses of any kind.”

The group said its team of lawyers is going to carry an in-depth study of all the elements to develop the best strategy and avoid any involvement on the part of entrepreneurs who carry out the activity.

Next Thursday, a new meeting is set to showcase the results of the analysis and, from there, the chamber will decide what legal actions need to be undertaken.

According to Hreinuk’s website, the Original Canopy Tour and the concept itself began when he moved to Costa Rica back in 1992.

The website stated the purpose of the tour was to provide a unique experience while, at the same time, raising environmental awareness and socio-economic development.

The company claims being featured on National Geographic, MSNBC, USA Today, MTV and the Discovery Channel among others.

A.M. Costa Rica attempted to request comment directly from Hreinuk but received no response in time.

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