A trademark in the business world sets you apart from others and makes your brand recognizable. It also helps if it is clear enough to send the right image and message. With so many businesses all competing for attention from consumers, the ability to stand out can be powerful and have a long-lasting effect. It's importance cannot be undermined, since potential customers may decide to go elsewhere to something that's more noticeable and eye-catching. A trademark can be something like a word, a symbol or even a combination of the two. It could even be a sound. If you're interested in Canadian trademark laws or an application, here is a step-by-step guide.
1. Initial Application
Before you start the application process, do a search first, to see if anyone else has a similar name or slogan. You can use the Internet for this purpose or a NUANS search (Newly Updated Automated Name Search). This is a more thorough search of businesses across Canada. Bear in mind, before you start the application that the whole process can take several months to a year and possibly longer.
When you first file for a trademark application, the government fee for this is $250. At the end of the application, there is a further charge of $200 when the trademark is registered. There may be other fees as well, dependent on other factors. You can do this by yourself, or you could hire a lawyer or an agent to do so. By registering a trademark, you protect your business name as well as a company slogan (if you have one), your logo, your website's name and domain and your products and services.
2. Trademark Records Searched
At this point, you need to sit tight and wait a few months as examiners begin a thorough search to see if there are other trademarks with which your application may clash. If there are no problems, then these examiners will decide if you can register your trademark while taking several factors into consideration. Your application and the description of your product or service has to be to their satisfaction, meaning, they are satisfied that you've complied with all regulations. You will then be told of these findings. If they feel that your application hasn't ticked all the right boxes, you may have to amend it and submit again.
3. Trademarks Journal Advertisement
If your application is approved, it's now advertised in the Trademarks Journal. Your application now allows others to challenge your application if they are opposed to it due to a conflict with an existing trademark. This opposition from the specific party must be based on valid grounds and it must be challenged within two months after your application was published. They need to file their opposition with a statement or they can request more time to oppose your submission, but it will also cost them a fee to do so. However, if they are successful, it could end your application or at least delay it by more than a year.
4. Allowance & Registration
If there is no opposition to your application within two months from the time its published in the Trademarks Journal, the trademarks office allows you to register your trademark. This is when you'll pay the $200 charge that was mentioned earlier. This $200 is per trademark. This fee has to be paid within six months from the time of allowance.
Once the fee is received, you'll be issued a certificate of registration (within four weeks) for that trademark and it will be entered into the Register of Trademarks. Your trademark is now valid for 15 years and can be renewed every 15 years after you pay the government fee. If you do not renew, your trademark will be expunged (removed).
You are now responsible for making sure nobody uses your trademark. You can take action against anyone who does. You always want your trademark to be unique and exclusive just to you, otherwise it could end up being a generic term that may no longer be associated with your company.
Whether you choose to do all of this by yourself or use the services of an agent or lawyer is entirely up to you. However, using a lawyer does have certain advantages. They can give you advice on policing your brand on the Internet or social media where there are always scams going on. Using a lawyer allows you access to the ins and outs from start to finish and beyond. If money is not an issue, then it's the best option when applying for a trademark.