(ALMOST) EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRADEMARKS
A trademark is a distinctive sign, which can be in the form of text, combination of signs and text, sound, or distinctive shapes or wrappings. Its purpose is to distinguish the goods or services of one enterprise from others in the marketplace.
Trademarks are essential for safeguarding intellectual property, representing a company's goods, services, reputation, and brand. Registering a trademark in Canada grants exclusive usage rights for 10 years, with the option to renew, providing protection against imitation or misuse. It's important to note that incorporating or registering your business name as a domain does not automatically confer trademark rights. Using an available domain that infringes on someone else's trademark can result in infringement claims or litigation.
REGISTERING A TRADEMARK
The registration process generally takes 18 to 24 months. Once approved, your trademark receives protection from the date of initial filing. Before using or applying for a trademark, conducting a search is crucial to ensure its availability for domain, company, or brand use. You can start with your own search using the items below:
- Canadian Trademarks Database
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) IP Portal
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
- Industry-specific websites and news sources
- Social media platforms
- E-commerce platforms
- Internet domain registries
- App stores
- International dictionaries (to assess potentially offensive word meanings in other languages)
- Ensure your trademark is not deceptive or misleading regarding the goods or services you offer.
- Avoid using generic names as trademarks.
When registering, define the goods and services broadly, including those you plan to offer in the future. It's easier to remove a covered category than to add one later. To register a trademark in Canada, click here.
FILING IN THE US
To register a trademark in the US you must go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This registration provides domestic legal protection for your trademark. Foreign trademark registrants are required to have legal representation to register within the US.
- The Madrid System offers a convenient and cost-effective solution for registering and managing trademarks worldwide. A single application and set of fees allow you to seek protection in up to 124 countries. You can modify, renew, or expand your global trademark portfolio through this centralized system. - Madrid Protocol, 2021
- The examination process for a certificate of registration issued by WIPO takes between 12 to 18 months. Once granted, the trademark registration will be valid for 10 years.
- VIDEO - How to do a registered trademark search with the WIPO Global Brand Database
Some of the information and documents you will be receiving within this process may be rather confidential and private. Be sure that you keep your documents in an easily accessible and safe spot such as a hard drive or even filing away physical copies.