Register your trademarks – There’s never been a better time to do so
There’s never been a better time than now to register your trademarks, like the name of your business, your logo or the brand names for your products or services.
In Canada, registering a trademark means getting it listed on the Register of Trade-marks in the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. A trademark does not have to be registered to enjoy a basic level of protection – you may be able to stop others from using your unregistered trademark to “pass off” their services as yours where your customers are likely to be confused. But registration brings a number of very important benefits.
The benefits of registration include:
the right to prevent anyone else from using or registering it or a confusingly similar trademark anywhere in Canada for 15 years (renewable);
a strong defence against claims by others to have prior rights in the same or similar trademark;
vastly enhanced enforcement options, including the ability to stop infringing social media uses (e.g. on Facebook) and the right to prevent uses that are not confusing but that depreciate the value of the goodwill in the trademark;
reduced enforcement costs (less evidence required to prove rights);
the Trade-marks Office will automatically consider the trade-mark when reviewing applications by others to register the same or confusingly similar trade-marks;
an application to register a trademark can be filed before it is used (on the basis of “proposed use”) whereas rights in an unregistered trademark only arise after it has acquired a reputation through use in the marketplace.
The reason why there’s never been a better time than now to register your trademarks is because Canada’s new trademark legislation is set to come into force in early 2015. One aspect of the new legislation will be to remove the traditional requirement that a trademark must be used before it can be registered. With the removal of this requirement, it is expected that trademarks will become like domain names, with parties registering trademarks for the sole purpose of selling them to businesses who may wish to use them in commerce – including businesses who have already used them for years without registering them.
Don’t let a trademark “squatter” register your trademark before you do and then hold it from you for ransom. Registering your trademark now (for $1500 - $2000) will cost a lot less than having to pay off a squatter down the road, or, worse, having to defend your rights to use your own trademark in court.
Here's me being interviewed on The Practice about the new trademark legislation: