Trademarks are a form of intellectual property. Trademarks are words, sounds, designs, logos or a combination of these used in association with your goods or services in the marketplace, and serves to distinguish your goods or services from those of others. Essentially, a trademark represents the reputation of your goods or services.
You may already own an unregistered trademark without knowing it. An unregistered trademark can exist simply by virtue of you using a particular name or logo. The courts afford owners of unregistered trademarks certain limited protections. In particular, an owner can sue someone for “passing off” , when a competitor leads the public to falsely believe that its goods and services are yours, or endorsed or approved by you.
However, registering your trademark with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office provides your trademark with additional protection. In addition to being able to sue for “passing off”, a registered owner of a trademark can also sue for “infringement”. Infringement is when someone uses a name that is identical or confusing to your registered trademark. “Depreciation of goodwill” is when someone uses your trademark in such a way that it has a negative effect on your trademark’s reputation.
The bottom line is that you need to register your trademark in order to grant it the most protection.
This article is intended to be an overview of the law and is for informational purposes only. Readers are cautioned that this article does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. Rather, readers should obtain specific legal advice in relation to the issues they are facing.
This article was written by a lawyer formerly with Lindsay Kenney LLP.