Trademarks in Canada

Author:
Mike Grossman
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Professional Engineer
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Updated:
April 1, 2020
Trademarks in Canada

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Trademarks are part of the Intellectual Property family but differ from the well known patent in many ways.

Trade marks are word(s), symbols, a design or any combination of these used to distinguish goods or services. The three types of nclude:

  • Ordinary Mark: consisting of words and/or designs
  • Certification Mark: used to identify a standard of quality (ISO 9001)
  • Distinguishing Guise: consisting of shaping of goods or packaging

TRADE MARK EXAMPLES

Trade name vs trademark

A trade name is a business’s name and can be registered as a trademark only if it is used as a trademark also. For example, the products must be associated with the goods and not another name.

It must be ABC’s ice cream if the business’s name is ABC and cannot be North Pole ice cream even though the company is still ABC. In other words the trademark associated with products may be used as a business name.


Trademark registration

Registration of a trademark gives exclusive protection in Canada for 15 years, then renewable every 1̶5̶ ̶y̶e̶a̶r̶s̶ after.

Update: to better match the international community, protection in Canada has been changed to 10 year, then renewable every 10 years after.

However, using a mark for a certain length of time can establish ownership via common law in Canada. Therefore one must search for trademarks and trade names also before registering a trademark as that party with the trade name can claim prior use.

If you do not use a one for an extended period, the trademark may be removed from the Register of Trademarks.

Eligibility of Canadian trademarks

This table summarizes what is suitable for trademark registration.

Eligible Not Eligible
North Pole Ice Cream Chocolate Candies (no distinctive quality compared to competitors)
Great North Ice Cream Sweet Ice Cream (incorrectly uses a common descriptor)
Marvalous Hot Dogs (uses a unique descriptor for hot dogs) French Wine (incorrectly uses a geographic location)
Venus Ice Cream (mythical names are allowed) Mesla Cars (too easily confused with Tesla)


The Canadian Trademark Act does not require any indicators such as: R, TM, SM, MC. There are special rules for stamps on precious metals such as registering a stamp of “10K Gold”.

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