8 Basic Facts About Trademarks
Hiring a trademark lawyer and registering a trademark is an important part of protecting your brand’s image and your company rights. In the same way you sign a deed for real estate, the same process applies to trademarks. Regarding what trademarks are and how they can strengthen your business, here are eight basic facts about trademarks to consider.
1. What’s a trademark?
A trademark can be assigned to words, sounds, or design, and are used to distinguish ownership. Trademarks can oftentimes represent not only the goods or services they represent, but involve the reputation of the brand. As intellectual property, trademarks are highly valuable.
2. There are 3 types of trademarks.
Trademarks are divided up between ordinary marks, certification marks, and distinguishing guises. An ordinary mark applies to words, sounds, or designs specific to a good, service, or organization. A certification mark is provided to license different products or services, showing these aforementioned products or services meet a specific standard. A distinguishing guise applies to the shape of a product, the way it is wrapped, or the way it is packaged.
3. How trademarks are different from other forms of IP.
Trademarks are unlike patents, copyrights, industrial designs, or integrated circuit topographies. Patents apply to inventions, copyrights apply to protect artistic-based works and similar subject matter, industrial designs involves visual shapes or ornaments, and integrated circuit topographies apply to three-dimensional configurations of electronic circuits. Comparatively, trademarks are assigned to words, sounds, or designs only.
4. The difference between a trade name and a trademark.
A trade name is the name you’ve assigned to your business. A trade name can be registered as a trademark under the Trade-marks Act of Canada, only if it is available and subsequently also used to describe a company’s product or services. Please note, if someone else in Canada already owns a similar trade name or trademark, a trademark registration can be cancelled.
5. Do I need to register my trademark?
When a trademark is registered in Canada, you receive sole right to use the mark anywhere in Canada for 15 years – at which time, you can renew your trademark for another fifteen years. Now, you don’t need to register your trademark. If you choose to have an unregistered trademark, after a certain length of time, you can be assigned ownership according to common law. That said, if there is a dispute at some point in time, you may be challenged with expensive legal fees trying to battle someone else for the right to use your trademark.
6. Is there anything you can’t register as a trademark?
Yes, there are several marks that cannot be registered under law as a trademark. They include names and surnames, descriptive marks, any words which represent the geographical location to which a good or service originates from, words in other languages, any words that could be confused with someone else’s registered trademark, or words or designs that are similar to a prohibited mark.
7. Who can apply to register a trademark?
Anyone can apply to the Office of the Registrar of Trademarks, to register a trademark. If you intend to apply as a group however, a legal partnership must be formed.
8. What is involved in filing a trademark application in Canada?
Your trademark lawyer can provide all the information and paperwork you require to file a trademark. An application will have to be written, evidence will need to be provided regarding how and why your mark can be registered, and a search of trademarks will have to be done ensuring your trademark is not already in use. Please note, should a similar trademark be found and/or if you unknowingly infringe upon an existing trademark, it could likely result in court proceedings against you. Therefore, it’s important to ensure what you’re attempting to register can be, in fact, registered.