One of the most popular posts on this blog is the one about copyright law and online content myths you should stop believing. The reason why I wrote that post in the first place is because I thought copyright law was one of the myth-ridden topics out there. However, I’ve recently come to notice that there are just as many myths about trademark law out there than there about copyright. Therefore, here are 4 myths about trademarks you really should stop believing.
Of course, please take this as legal information and not legal advice. If you have any questions regarding trademarks, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Myth #1: Registering your business name is the same as registering your trademarks
Let’s start with the basics. Registering your business name has nothing to do with trademarks. Business names as used to identify businesses. Trademarks are used to distinguish a business’ goods and services.
Your business name may or may not be eligible for trademark registration, but if you’d like to use your business name as a trademark and have it protected as such, it must be registered with Canada’s Intellectual Property Office.
Myth #2: You can’t use a certain name for your business if it has already been used
This myth is the one I see the most, and yet, the one that can be most easily refuted. You can find Dove chocolate and Dove hygiene products (no, they’re not made by the same company). There’s the Barbie doll as well as the Barbies restaurant chain.
One of the core concepts in trademark law is confusion. You cannot use a trademark that will create confusion amongst consumers. The reason why brands such as Dove chocolate and Dove body products can coexist is because they’ve proven there are no chances of confusion between the two.
Of course, there are times where the use of certain names will be confusing (if we’re talking about two companies operating in the same industry, for instance), but the main takeaway here is that the existence of a trademark doesn’t necessarily stop you from using it (you should of course consult a lawyer to help you determine this).
Myth #3: Trademark registration is an expense that shouldn’t be made until your business has gotten to a certain size
First of all, registering your trademarks should be seen as an investment, not an expense. Intellectual property assets are extremely valuable and having a registered trademark can definitely help increase the valuation of your company.
Also, trademark registration is for every all businesses, regardless of the size. As a matter of fact, you do not want to be in a situation where your business has reached a certain growth to register your trademarks, as obtaining a trademark can take between 12 to 16 months. The earlier you’re protected, the better.
Myth #4: Simply using your name/logo is enough to protect you
While it is true that using a non-registered trademark confers some protection, it isn’t nearly as broad as the one registration allows you to have. For instance, rights upon non-registered trademarks may only be given after a certain period of time. You should also keep in mind that the existence of a non-registered trademark has to be proven on a territorial basis (as opposed to registration, which gives you protection all over Canada). Registration really is the only way to ensure your trademarks will be properly protected.
If you have any additional legal questions you would like to ask me regarding trademarks or if you need assistance to register your trademarks, do not hesitate to send me an email at email@example.com or click on the link below to schedule a consultation.