Pre-Trademark Filing FAQ for Canadian Trademark Applications
Here are our answers to some commonly asked questions about Canadian trademarks before filing.
1. What information do I need to file a trademark?
To file a trademark in Canada, you will generally need the following information:
The exact mark you want to register – this can be a word mark or a design mark
The legal name and address of the owner
A list of goods and services associated with the mark
2. Should I file a design mark or a word mark?
A word mark protects the word(s) themselves, regardless of the way they are displayed. A design mark, sometimes known as a logo, protects the stylized appearance of the word or a graphic symbol. A design mark can also be a combination of a word plus a separate graphic symbol. Non-roman or Asian character trademarks also need to be filed as design marks.
Deciding between the two often depends on how you plan to use the mark. If the visual appearance is crucial to your brand, you might consider a design mark. If you want broader protection that covers the word(s) in any format, a word mark is generally more appropriate.
3. What are trademark classes and how do they affect fees?
Trademark classes categorize the goods and services that a mark will cover. Canada uses the Nice Classification system, which has 45 classes. Fees are assessed on a per-class basis. The more classes you file under, the higher your application fee will be. Also, the more classes that a trademark covers, the greater the potential for conflict with other trademarks.
Please note that trademark applications generally cannot claim entire classes – you will need to list each of the products or services that you provide, which will then be classified to determine the total fees.
4. How can a trademark agent help with the process?
A trademark agent can provide advice on a range of issues, including ownership, NICE classification, the likelihood of successful registration, potential conflicts, and how to respond to examiner objections. They will also prepare and file the full trademark application for you, and represent you in communications with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).
5. How long does the process take?
The process can be broken down into two main parts:
Preparation Time: Depending on the complexity, it may take a one to a few days to prepare the application.
Examination Time: After filing, CIPO typically takes around 24 months to examine an application. Registration can take longer if issues arise during examination.
6. Do I need to use a trademark first before filing a trademark application?
In Canada, you do not need to use a trademark before filing a trademark application. However, you should be prepared to use the trademark at least within three years after registration, or your trademark may be expunged for non-use.
7. Do I need a registered trademark before I start using the trademark?
No, you do not need to register a trademark to start using it. However, it is recommended that you obtain at least a trademark search to ensure that your usage does not conflict with an existing trademark.
8. What are the main benefits of owning a trademark?
Owning a registered trademark gives you exclusive rights to the mark in Canada, makes it easier to protect your mark from infringement, and enhances your brand's reputation. A trademark may also be required to access brand protection tools such as those found on the Amazon platform or to take down infringing ads on Google.
9. Is a trademark different from registering a business name?
Yes, a registered business name and a registered trademark serve different legal functions. A business name identifies your business for communicating with the government or the public, but doesn't give you exclusive rights to use that name as a trademark across Canada. For exclusive rights, a trademark registration is needed.
Post-Trademark Filing FAQ for Canadian Trademark Applications
Here are our answers to some commonly asked questions about the post-filing process.
1. What Happens After I File My Trademark Application in Canada?
After filing, your application will be assigned an application number and filing date, and will undergo an initial assessment by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) to ensure it meets basic filing requirements. It will then be placed in queue for examination by a CIPO examiner.
2. How Long Does the Examination Process Take?
For 2023-2024, CIPO has advised that the examination process can take 18-24 months, depending on the complexity of your application and the current workload at CIPO. If you require urgent examination of your trademark application (e.g., your trademark is being infringed or hijacked online), we can request expedited examination of your trademark application.
3. It has been more than 24 months! What is happening to my application?
Some applications are flagged by CIPO for using non-approved terms in their list of goods and services. This can happen if custom terms are used (for specific products or services), or because CIPO has changed its list of pre-approved terms over time. This places the application in a slower queue for examination (4 years or longer). If this happens, there are various options to place the application back into the standard examination queue, and we can discuss the options for achieving this.
4. What is an Office Action?
An Office Action is a letter from CIPO that raises issues or questions about your application. You will have a set period to respond to each Office Action, typically six months. We will report these to you, along with our recommendations and estimate of fees to prepare the response.
5. Can I Make Amendments to My Application After Filing?
Yes, you can amend certain elements of your application, like changing your address and narrowing the list of goods and services. However, more significant changes, like altering the trademark or expanding the list of goods and services, are generally not allowed.
6. What is a Trademark Opposition?
After the examination and approval of your application, it will be published in the Trade-marks Journal for opposition. During this period, anyone may oppose your application for various reasons, like similarity to an existing trademark or trade name. The opposition period in Canada is two months from the date of publication in the Trade-marks Journal.
7. When Will My Trademark Be Registered?
If no oppositions are filed, or if you successfully overcome an opposition, your trademark will proceed to registration usually one month after the end of the opposition period. You'll then receive a certificate of registration from CIPO.
8. Do I Need to Use My Trademark to Keep it Registered?
Yes, in Canada, a registered trademark must be used within three years from the date of registration, or it may be subject to cancellation for non-use. It is best to keep an annual record of your trademark usage (e.g., invoices showing dates, photos, sales records, web printouts) to defend against potential cancellation proceedings.
9. When Do I Have to Renew My Trademark?
In Canada, a trademark registration is valid for 10 years and can be renewed every 10 years thereafter. Failure to renew will result in the cancellation of the trademark registration. For trademarks managed by us, we will remind you prior to the renewal date and can facilitate the renewal fee payment on your behalf.
10. Can I Sell or Transfer My Trademark?
Yes, trademarks can be sold, licensed, or otherwise transferred, both during the application process or after registration. However, to complete the transfer, you'll need to record the change with CIPO. We can assist by preparing a transfer agreement and making the necessary request with CIPO.
4. 什么是审查意见通知书（Office Action)？
审查意见通知书 （Office Action) 是CIPO发出的一封信，提出了关于您申请中的问题或疑问。您将有一段时间来回复每项审查意见通知书，通常为六个月期限。我们将向您报告这些情况，以及我们准备回应的建议和费用估算。
6. 什么是商标异议（Trademark Opposition)？
您的申请审核通过后，它将在《商标杂志》（Trade-marks Journal) 中公布以供异议。在此期间，任何人都可能以各种理由反对您的申请，例如与现有商标或商号相似。在加拿大，异议期为《商标杂志》上的发布日期后两个月。