What is a trademark?

A trade-mark is a word or marking that is intended to distinguish the wares or services of one business from those of others. Typically a trade-mark is a word, design or combination of these elements. However, certain “distinguishing guises” (uniquely shaped goods or containers) and sounds can be trade-marked.

Unregistered trade-marks can be protected against confusing marks through a passing-off action. However, the owner of the trade-mark must be able to establish that the public associates the mark with its goods and services. This protection would also be limited to the geographical area in which the mark is found to be distinctive.

Therefore, if registrable, it is beneficial for businesses to register trade-marks under federal trademark legislation. By registering a trade-mark, the owner of the mark is granted an exclusive right to use or license the mark throughout Canada, and to prevent others from using marks that would be confusing with their mark. The registration term is for 15 years and may be renewed indefinitely.