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Trademarks protects brands.  A trademark is a combination of letters, words, sounds or designs that distinguishes one company’s goods or services from those of others in the marketplace.

Trademarks must be used in commerce to maintain protection (use it or lose it).

Use proper marking for your Trademarks

  • ® for registered trademarks
  • TM for unregistered trademarks


McDonald's and Starbucks logo


From a business perspective, it has been argued that trademarks are the most valuable form of intellectual property. Trademarks are specific to certain wares, so it is possible for a restaurant, golf ball manufacturer and fruit juice brand to have the same registered name.

Like patents and copyright, a trademark gives the holder the right to prevent others from using the mark. Canadian trademarks last for 10-year terms, but may be reapplied upon term completion.

An interesting consequence of the World Wide Web relates to the use of domain names that contain registered trademarks, such as While trademarks are country and ware specific, domain names are international and ubiquitous. There can be a different John Deere business in many countries, but only one therefore a complex area of intellectual property law is emerging about the use of ownership of domain names for business purposes.


Trademarks registration benefits

Like copyrights, unregistered trademarks can have some protection, but there are additional benefits to registering your trademarks:

  • Provides statutory rights across Canada
  • Easier to enforce against infringement
  • Easier to determine equity/value

Here is a video on trademarks by the World Intellectual Property Organization:

Online resources available for searching through registered trademarks include: