Why Is It Important to Conduct a Trademark Search?
You have invested your time and energy into creating something that brings you pride and security. You want to stand out so customers know your business supplies them with their favourite products. It makes sense to have personalized branding that will keep your customers confident you are there for them. Creating and registering a trademark is a great way to be noticed and ensure you are not using someone else’s idea that can lead to liability issues down the road.
Intellectual property refers to the rights to something someone has created, and a trademark falls into that category. Part of the process of ensuring you are using an original concept is registering your brand. Not having the registration creates an open invitation for other companies to use your ideas and concepts without asking. And on top of that, not having the legal proof showing the trademark is yours can lead to costly and time-consuming legal disputes.
There can be repercussions when an individual chooses to use a trademark that belongs to someone else. If found guilty, the laws can order an individual to stop using the brand, destroy any property with the logo on it, and cover any lawyer fees incurred. Making sure you understand how you can use a trademark is a pivotal factor to your long-term success. Shift Law of Toronto, Ontario, will leverage its experience in trademark issues to help you make your registration experience as painless as possible.
What Is a Trademark?
Trademarks can be a collaboration of symbols, words, or colours specific to a particular product. Some concepts to consider are logos or designs that represent what you are producing. They can use their trademark to protect the owner’s plan and prevent possible confusion with other similar products. Customer trust is built on recognizing your products, so having the correct identifiers in place will help customers know they are in your best interest.
Minor differences in brands and design can create problems down the road, so having distinct characters in yours can save you a headache down the line. The whole idea is to create a striking design that sets you apart from other competitors. The more individual your branding, the greater your chances of having your trademark approved.
In some situations, companies will come together and share a trademark under a specified contract. This situation will all vary on time and stipulations within the proposal, but it is possible.
Examples of Things You Cannot Use When Applying for Your Trademark:
- words that describe a large group of items such as “tasty” or “creamy”
- descriptions that do not match your products
- words that can be associated with other organizations (unless permitted)
A more exhaustive list of exceptions can be found on the Canadian Intellectual Property website.
What Do I Look for in My Search?
The first step in this process is to check the trademark database for your providence. You can start this search by looking for designs like yours in the Canadian Trademark Registration Database. This website is the most trusted source for finding listings of all registered trademarks, and individuals can input dates to expand their search. Once there, you will have access to a detailed search engine that can optimize your information for matches.
The website offers multiple search options, including looking up names or specific goods and services provided. It also gives categories for more particular things such as colours or scents. Remember that there are multiple ways to describe something like a colour, so be sure to take that into account. For example, if the name of your business was “Red Duck,” taking the time to ensure you have cross-referenced all titles that could equate to the colour red is advised.
Using exact words and close variations to your terms is critical. This way, you can make sure that no one else already has your design when you do your trademark search. If you plan to extend your business outside of your location and find no similar matches, it is a good idea to expand into other provinces.
There are unique situations that can arise with trademarks, one of which is called “common law trademarks.” These are not obtained through traditional sources and will not show up in archives. Common law trademarks are created by conducting business in the area the participant chooses without filing any paperwork. These trademarks are hard to prove viable because there is no legal registration, but they still have protection.
Common law trademarks are common, and an owner can have a valid argument as being established within the community. Ensuring there are no issues for you will require a much broader and more thorough search of local companies and media platforms.
How Do I Get Started Registering My Trademark?
Once you have exhausted your database and external searches to confirm there are no other individuals with your trademark, you can start your registration. Your first step is to go to the trademark registration website for Canada to get the application process going.
This application will require you to give information such as contact details, what your business does, a description of your brand, and any other requested information. Having multiple varieties of images or representations of your design will be helpful to ensure that your trademark is interpreted correctly in processing. Also, understand that with a brand can come expenses such as registration or lawyer’s fees and specific time frames for getting all required information turned in for processing.
How an Attorney Can Help Protect Your Investment
Your trademark’s security is no small task, and the larger your investment, the more time needs to go into your search. Issues that can arise in this process can vary and we want you to be prepared for them. You might have questions like:
- What if you are going to expand your work locations, or your brand is being used by someone else later?
- Perhaps when you checked with the trademark office, you came across two confusingly similar trademarks; how is that handled?
- How long do you search for, and where do you go, to make sure you have checked all your sources?
- What if there is a similar design to yours? How do you approach that with caution to be able to use yours?
You may be able to avoid these potentially long-term financial issues by speaking to a lawyer. Get in touch with a Toronto lawyer who can help you begin your trademark search today!