Your brand and company name are crucial assets. Every dollar you spend to promote them helps you stand out from the crowd. But your business identity is vulnerable unless legally protected.
Trademarking is the way to gain this defense. It provides a shield against your intellectual property being poached. However to retain this protection you must be vigilant. The process of securing, monitoring and renewing your trademark is ongoing.
What Types Of Intellectual Property Should Be Trademarked?
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; or symbols, names and images used in commerce.
Your business identity is a type of IP. It can be shown in many ways. This may range from your brand name, the shape of your product or its container, a logo, or catchphrase. It could also be a unique sound or design.
How Does A Trademark Defend My Business IP?
Competitors could be tempted to capture some of your intellectual assets if they're not protected. Registering your IP shields your trademarks from misuse. It gives you the exclusive rights to use the IP throughout Canada for 15 years (renewable).
Anyone who tries to copy your branding or identity too closely could be infringing on your trademark. It depends how similar their copying is. Also it’s possible to have the same brand name so long as it’s in a different commercial category. A good example is monster.com®, Monster Energy® beverages, and Monster® Products cables. None of these companies are related except by name.
Note that it is up to you to defend your trademarks against misuse. Registration alone will not prevent others from attempting to imitate your IP. If they do, you need to notice it as part of your market intelligence efforts. Then you must take formal measures to protect your marks.
Who Governs Trademarks in Canada?
Ownership of most intellectual assets can be formalized through intellectual property rights at CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office). CIPO is a Special Operating Agency of Industry Canada, a department of our federal government.
How Do I Apply For Trademark Registration?
There are multiple steps when applying for a trademark. The standard process could take between 12 – 18 months overall.
Step one is to check that the name or brand you want to register hasn’t alread been trademarked. Use CIPO’s free Canadian trade-marks database for this. Step two is submitting your application for trademark registration. You can do this directly to CIPO.