As a business owner, you might wonder what trademarking is, when’s the right time to register, and how to get started.
Good news, you’ve landed in the right place!
In January 2023, The Brand Brew™ began the journey of trademarking our name. In short, the term trademark refers to a recognizable insignia, phrase, word, or symbol that legally differentiates from all other products or services of its kind. A trademark also exclusively identifies as belonging to a specific business and recognizes the company's brand ownership.
In a conversation with Cynthia Mason, Canadian Trademark Lawyer of Mason PC®* we learned that the best time to start a trademark registration is after you have determined that the trademark is available to use but before you launch your brand products and services to the market.
A Business Registration is NOT Trademarking
Many business owners have had the misconception that simply deciding on a brand name (and using it) along with registering your business protects you in the event of a name dispute, yet this is simply not the case.
Mason advises that business name registration acts more like a directory listing, where the public can learn the names of the individuals behind the business. She adds that it doesn’t actually grant you rights over that name. You'll need a Canadian trademark registration to prove that you have the exclusive right to use your name.
The trademark registration process occurs with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), a Federal Government agency.
Registering your trademark in Canada can take 2 to 4 years (or more). So, the earlier you start, the sooner you will have all the legal rights afforded to only registered trademarks in the country.
5 Benefits of Trademarking Your Brand
While researching the benefits, we compiled at list of the top 5 reasons why you should not delay trademarking and make it a part of your brand launch strategy:
A trademark gives you exclusive rights to use your name, logo and/or slogan in the market and prevents others from using confusingly similar ones. This way, you can protect your brand identity, reputation and goodwill from being diluted or damaged by competitors or copycats.
A trademark can increase the value of your business, as it is an intangible asset that can be licensed, franchised, sold or used as collateral. A trademark can also attract customers, investors and partners, who recognize and trust your brand.
A trademark can help you expand your business to new territories, as it can serve as a basis for registering your name, logo and/or slogan in other regions. It gives you exclusive rights to use the trademark across Canada for ten years (and you can renew that indefinitely). You can also benefit from international treaties and agreements that facilitate the protection of your trademark abroad (if you choose to apply for a registration outside of Canada, too.)
A trademark can save you time and money, as it can prevent costly disputes and litigation with other parties who claim prior rights or infringe on your name, logo and/or slogan. A trademark can also help you enforce your rights and seek remedies in case of such infringements.
How To Get Started With Trademarking
The trademark register is the essential place to search for the availability of a name because it includes both registered and proposed trademarks that businesses have claimed for their future use. However, you can spend ALOT of time reviewing trademark search results if you don’t approach it with a good strategy.
If many results are returned, you can narrow them down by including types of goods and services. You can add another search criteria, by using the Nice International Classification system which is apart of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This will enable you to quickly identify the trademarks that cover goods and services that are similar to yours. The system divides all goods and services into 45 classes, and you need to specify which ones you want to register your trademark for.
For example, if you have a coffee shop, you might want to register your trademark for class 30 (coffee, tea, cocoa, etc.) and class 43 (services for providing food and drink, etc.), or if you own a wellness centre, you might want to register your trademark for class 44 (health spa services) and class 41 (sports and fitness training services).
Now it is time to file an application to register your trademark. This process can be complex and time-consuming, as you must comply with various legal requirements and procedures.
That's why we recommend enlisting the help of a professional service such as Markably®*
Markably® is an online platform that offers affordable and easy-to-use trademark registration services for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Finally, while you wait for your trademark to be approved, use the mark ™ to signify to the world that the process is underway. However, once you are a registered trademark, you can use the registered ® symbol on your name, logo and/or slogan, where it legally applies.
Trademarking your business name, logo and/or slogan is crucial to protecting your brand, identity and reputation. By trademarking before you launch your products or services, you can avoid the risk of infringing on existing trademarks, facing legal disputes, or having to rebrand your business. Trademarking your business name sooner rather than later can save you time, money, and potential headaches in the long run.
*This is not a paid promotion. The opinions expressed and the recommendations made in this article are solely based on The Brand Brew’s own experiences, and we are in no way affiliated with Mason PC ® or Markably®.