A Guide to Trademark Law: 6 Questions You May Have

Jane Spencer 2016-05-09 14:00:00

To get ahead in the business world in Canada you need to develop an image. Your customers need to be able to pick your product or brand out from the crowd or they may choose someone else’s service or products that catches their attention. Registering your trademark is one of the ways you can protect your corporate image. It gives you legal title to your trademark the way that a deed gives you the title to a piece of real estate property. Here are some basic facts you should know about trademarks.

Trademarks can be a design, sound, word, or combination of words used to distinguish the services or goods of one organization or person from those of others. As time goes on, trademarks come to stand for the reputation of the producer as well as the actual services and goods. Trademarks are valuable intellectual property. If you need help in trademark law, consider consulting with a professional lawyer. Hoffer Adler LLP are the trademark law experts and have years of experience handling intellectual property cases.

There are three types of trademarks:

•    An ordinary mark is made up of designs, words, sounds, or a combination of these to distinguish the services or goods of a person or organization from those of others.

•    A certification mark is used for the purposes of showing that certain services or goods meet a defined standard. This type of mark can be licensed to many people or companies. One example of this would be the Woolmark design that is used on clothing and other goods.

•    A distinguishing guise is in reference to the shape of goods or their containers, or a certain way of packaging or wrapping goods that shows they have been produced by a certain firm or person. For example, if you made butterfly-shaped cookies you could register the butterfly shape as a distinguishing guise.

A lot of times, people confuse trademarks with copyrights, patents, integrated circuit topographies and industrial designs, but there are differences among them:

•    Copyright gives protection for artistic, literary, dramatic or musical works, and other subject-matter known as sound recordings, communication signals, and performer’s performances.

•    Patents cover useful and new inventions or any new and useful improvement to an already existing invention.

•    Integrated circuit topographies are the 3D configurations of electronic circuits that are embodied in layout designs or integrated circuit products.

•    Industrial designs are the visual features of configuration, shape, ornament or pattern, or any combination of these applied to a finished article.

A trade name is the actual name of your business. You can register your trade name only if you use it also as a trademark to identify services or goods.

A registered trademark is one that has been entered in the Register of Trademarks. Registration is proof that you own the trademark.

If you use a trademark for a certain period of time, under common law, you come to own it. This makes it an unregistered trademark. If, however, you end up in a dispute over your trademark, it could be a long and expensive fight to get to use it.

There’s a list of things you cannot register, including:
•    first names and last names;
•    words in other languages;
•    words or designs that could be confused with a pending or registered trademark;
•    deceptively misdescriptive marks;
•    clearly descriptive marks;
•    words or designs that look very similar to a prohibited mark; and
•    words that represent a geographical location commonly known to be the place of origin of such services or goods.

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