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May 20, 2014

Should I Trademark my Company’s Name or Logo

*this article is to be used as a guideline and is in no way legal advice - for more up to date information visit your government website*

There are so many different aspects to starting a business, you want to make sure you're protected. But how much registration is really needed for a small handmade business? Only you can decide but this article answers some common questions around trademarking, if it's necessary and it's costs...

What is a trademark?

A trademark is used to set the wares or services of a person or their company apart from others in the marketplace by using a word, symbol, design or a combination of all three. It also protects consumers from being confused between brands in the marketplace. When you register a trademark it gives you the right to use that mark across Canada for 15 years. And most importantly, a registered trademark provides proof of ownership in the case of a dispute. There are 3 types of trademarks:

1) Ordinary marks – words, symbols or a combination, which set your company and its products or services apart from others in the marketplace.
2) Certification marks – indicates that products and services have a defined standard they must be held to.
3) Distinguishing guise – identifies the unique shape of products or their containers.

Do I have to register a trademark?

No. But you may run into problems if another company in Canada registers a trademark that is similar to the one you’re using. You may be ordered to stop using your trademark, having to change your name, symbol or design you built your company on. Registering a trademark will also protect you against infringers.

If you don’t register your trademark, you’re only protected under the Common Law rights and these rights are restricted to the geographic area where the trademark has been used. 

Isn’t it enough if I’ve registered my business name and domain name?

Registering and owning a business name and domain name does not protect your marks or prevent others from using similar words, symbols or designs.

How do I register my trademark?

In Canada you must first put your trademark into use before you can register it and should start with a trademark search to be sure that no one else is currently using or applied for the brand you wish to register. You can use CIPO’s online Canadian Trademarks Database to search. Hiring a Trademark Agent will ensure a thorough job.

You can then register your trademark online and wait for approval or you can hire a Trademark Agent to help you with the application. If your goods or services aren't on the market yet, you can still request registration on the basis that you're intending to use it.

How much does it cost?

In Canada it costs $250 to submit an application online or $300 to mail it in (non-refundable filing fee). If your application is approved, you will pay another $200 for a certificate of registration. These prices do not include the fees of a Trademark Agent if you choose to use one.

Is my trademark protected in other countries?

No, your trademark is only protected in the country you apply and are approved for. If you want to expand your business to the US, you must register your trademark there.

Where can I find out more and register?

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)

Image courtesy Sicha Pongjivanich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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