Trade-marks: The Basics


In a new series, we review the basics of Canadian trade-mark, copyright and patent law.

  • Canadian Trade-marks: Trade-marks protect the rights to brand names, such as a word, logo or design. A trade-mark is used in the marketplace to identify products of one company, and distinguish these products from others in the marketplace. Trade-marks can be extremely valuable assets of a company, and represent the company’s reputation with consumers. If mishandled or left unprotected, trade-mark rights can be eroded or lost. In Canada, trade-marks can be registered through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and a Trade-mark Agent can assist with screening searches and registration services.
  • Best Practices:
    • Registration – Seek registration for your core brands. This extends your rights to that mark, in connection with your products, across Canada. Unregistered marks do not enjoy the same scope of protection.
    • Screening Searches – Make better business decisions with better information. Searches are critical, particularly before launching a new brand. This helps assess risk and provides insight about potential competitors in the marketplace.
    • Notation –  Mark your brands with the â„¢ symbol or the ® symbol for registered marks. Consider establishing brand guidelines for your organization.
    • Licensing – Marks used within a large corporate group, or between a parent company and its subsidiaries, licensees or franchisees, should be properly licensed. Otherwise, a company risks losing its rights to unlicensed marks.
  • Trade-marks on the Internet: Trade-mark policing and enforcement is challenging in the context of the internet, since infringement can easily occur in any jurisdiction, and from any server. Establish a strategy that’s suitable and cost-effective in your industry, coordinating with your domain names and your national and international brand portfolio.
  • Trade-marks Outside Canada: If you have or are seeking customers outside Canada, then get advice on trade-mark protection in those markets, whether in the US, China, the EU, or developing markets in South America. Trade-mark rights are governed country-by-country, so remember that trade-mark rights in Canada will not provide any protection in the US or elsewhere. Prioritize your brands and markets and seek assistance from professionals who can help establish a strategy for brand protection beyond Canada’s borders.

For more information and assistance with your trade-mark needs visit Field’s Intellectual Property & Technology Group. 

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

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