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see also  Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)| Office de la propriété intellectuelle du Canada English Guides to Trademarks information & services

Canada Legal Info Acts & Government Agencies dealing with Copyright & Trademarks

Trademarks FAQs

(Frequently Asked Questions)
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  1. Can anyone register a trademark?

  2. Can I register a name before I'm in business?

  3. How long will my trademark be protected?

  4. Are there some words, symbols I cannot use?

  5. How much does it cost?

  6. Do I have to use a Lawyer?

  7. What if my trademark is used by another business?

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1.  Can anyone register a trademark?

Generally yes.  Individuals, companies, partnerships, trade unions may seek registration of their particular marks provided the requirements of the Trade-marks Act and Regulations is met.

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2.  Can I register a name before I'm in business?

It is usually the case that your trademark must be in use before it can be registered. At the time of seeking application you may propose to use a trademark.  But before registration is granted you must make use of your trademark.

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3.  How long will my trademark be protected?

Your registered trademark is valid for 15 years.  By paying a renewal fee of $300 [fee as of 1999] you may have it renewed every 15 years.

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4.  Are there some words, symbols I cannot use?

Some things you may not register as a trademark:
General Terms

Words that describe your product in terms such as "delicious yoghurt" or "savoury cheese". These are characteristics which can be used to describe any brand. If registered as a trademark no other vendor could use them which would be unfair.

Names and Surnames

You are not entitled to use your name or surname. But there are exceptions. if your name has become known such that it is now associated with the product or service then it is possible you may register it. Some examples are "Ford" or "Kellogg's". The same rule applies if you have for a long time used a general term in association with your product.

Place of Origin

Generally words of a geographical nature such as "B.C. apples" are not permitted. Such terms would be unfair to others trying to promote their B.C. products.

Similarity to Other Trademarks

If a ward or symbol is similar to an existing or pending trademark you will not be allowed to register.

Expressly Prohibited

BY Section 9(1) of the Trademarks Act you may not use certain official symbols. Prohibited symbols are:
  • flags and symbols of Canada and other countries
  • coats of arms of the Royal Family
  • badges of the Armed Forces and the R.C.M.P.
  • identification associated with the Red Cross and the U.N.
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5.  How much does it cost?

You must include with your trademark application a filing cost of $150 [this was in 1999 .  At the point of registration you must then forward a further $200 [this was in 1999].  Be aware that the cost of employing a trademark agent or lawyer to conduct a search and assist with the application will be more than the filing and application fee.

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6.  Do I have to use a lawyer?

No.  But be aware that Trademark law is technical.  A lawyer or a trademark agent can simplify the application process for you.  Assistance is virtually essential if someone challenges your application or when conducting a preliminary search of existing or pending trademarks.  By doing more homework and consulting professional advice your application is much more likely to succeed.

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7.  What if my trademark is used by another business?

Your rights will depend upon whether your trademark is registered or unregistered.  If unregistered you must be able to prove a right to first use of the trademark.  First use of the mark in Canada is generally accepted as proof of ownership. Your rights are then the same as those of a registered owner.  A court will bar the "infringer" from further use of your mark.  In addition a court may also order that damages be paid to you.

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More questions?

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This page last updated: November 30, 1999
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