Your trademarks are an important asset in building product and brand reputation. Some businesses use their names as their trademarks.
Others use a completely different name, with some having their business name less popular than the trademark on their products.
To such businesses, the focus of their IP protections is on their trademarks. However, it is equally important to ensure that your non-trademark business name is protected.
This guide explores some options you could explore to protect your non-trademark business name.
1. Register Your Business
Registering a business as a legal entity in Canada is not mandatory.
But every serious business person should, as it helps limit liability, makes raising capital much easier, helps build credibility, and can be a legal requirement in contractual-based businesses.
Also, registering your business can give you some protection for your non-trademarked business name.
Not all business entities offer business name protections on a federal level. For example, an LLC only offers protection in the province where the business is registered.
This means you must register your business in all Canadian territories to secure exclusive rights to your business name. On the other hand, a federal corporation enjoys protection all over Canada.
2. You Can Choose To Trademark It
There is no limitation to the number of trademarks you can register, so there is no reason why you should not register your business name.
Trademark protections cover brand or business identifiers such as brand names, business names, logos, blog names, and slogans.
Unlike business registration, trademark registration guarantees protection in all Canadian territories, meaning you only need to register once. A business name must be distinctive and cannot closely resemble an existing one to be eligible for trademark protection.
Registering your business name as a trademark only offers protection within Canada. For trademark protection outside Canada, you must apply for registration in the countries where you intend to have an exclusive right to your business name.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) offers an easier way to file for international trademark protection.
3. Follow The Registration Process
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) handles all IP registrations in Canada.
Before filing for registration, the first step should be conducting a comprehensive search of CIPO’s trademark database. The database contains information about trademarks registered in Canada and pending applications.
If your business name is free to use, the next step would be checking online for entities using similar names under common law. If your name passes this test, you can apply to register on CIPO’s website or visit their office in person.
4. Know The Cost of Registering Your Business Name
You will incur some costs in the registration process, but how much you spend will depend on the type of business and if you intend to have an IP expert helping you through the process.
Official trademark registration fees in Canada are CAD 335.93 for the first class of goods or services you intend to market using your trademarks.
CAD108.80 for every additional class of goods or services. Since you do not need to use your business name on products, you may only need to pay the initial fee.
If you use a professional in the process, such as an IP agency or lawyer, their fees can differ based on the level of help you get and their experience.
You should expect to pay between CAD 3,000 and CAD 5,000, exclusive of tax, for the entire process when working with an IP expert. If you want an in-depth understanding of trademark costs in Canada, you can get more information here courtesy of Heer law.
If you intend to apply for registration in other countries, you will have to include the costs of registering trademarks in those countries.
Protecting a non-trademarked business name is an important step for any business owner.
While the process may come with some costs, it is worth the investment to protect your business name and help build business credibility and reputation.