Registering a Trademark – What You Need to Know

A trademark is a unique combination of elements that you use to distinguish your business’s goods or services from the goods and services of others. The more you use your trademark in conjunction with your business, the more the trademark comes to represent your company, your product, and your reputation in the public eye. Registering your trademark lets you protect the time and effort you put into developing your reputation by preventing others from using or misusing the same trademark in Canada.

Our Richmond Hill business lawyers can ensure that you have all the information you need to know when registering a trademark. Contact us for legal help if you would like to register a trademark.

What are the elements of a trademark? 

Trademarks can be made up of any combination of:

  • Words and letters
  • Designs and colours
  • Moving images
  • Tastes, textures, and scents
  • Three-dimensional shapes
  • Modes of packaging
  • Holograms

Trademarks must be unique. You cannot register a trademark if it can be confused with an existing, registered or pending trademark. Your trademark may be considered similar to another if it looks or sounds similar or suggests a similar idea. This is of particular concern if your trademark is used to market similar goods or services.

Requirements for Registration

Your trademark can be registered with the federal Trademark Register, provided it complies with the requirements set out in the Trademarks Act.

There are various rules and restrictions relating to the registration of trademarks. For example, you typically cannot register:

  • Names
  • Marks that are clearly descriptive of a characteristic or the quality of your goods or services
  • Marks that are deceptively misdescriptive
  • The place of origin of your goods or services or a misleading place of origin
  • Words in other languages
  • Words that can be confused with registered trademarks or with a prohibited mark (e.g., official marks, such as government symbols, or scandalous, obscene, or immoral elements).

Exceptions may be granted to some of the above restrictions if you can prove that your trademark has become very well known to the public.

Before you apply for registration, it is a good idea to search the Canadian Trademarks Database to determine if your trademark may be confused with another registered or pending trademark.

The registration and examination process can be tricky. There are a number of reasons why your application may be rejected or opposed. Our Richmond Hill business lawyers may be able to help you get results as quickly as possible.

Using Your Trademark

Once your trademark is registered, you must continue to use it in conjunction with your business, in the same form. For example, if you registered a red cartoon rabbit on a green background in association with the sale of carrots, but you start using a yellow rabbit, or change from selling carrots to selling pudding, your trademark registration may be at risk of being expunged.

Your registration may also be expunged if your trademark loses its distinctiveness. This can happen if you do not prevent others from using your registered trademark, in which case the public no longer associates the trademark with your goods or services, but with the goods or services of various businesses.

Contact our Richmond Hill Business Lawyers Today for a Consultation

A valuable tool in marketing your business’s goods and services, there are many things to consider when creating, registering, and maintaining a trademark. From understanding what constitutes an eligible trademark to the protection of your trademark’s distinctiveness, our Richmond Hill business lawyers may be able to help address your questions at any stage in the trademarking process. Contact us today to book a consultation and see how we may be able to help.

* Note that this article is not intended as legal advice. It is a general overview of trademark registration in Canada. If you are seeking legal advice, please speak with a lawyer.