Common law rights through use of a trademark can exist without registering the trademark with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. However, these rights are limited, and trademark registration has the following advantages:

Exclusive rights to use the mark across Canada. A Canadian trademark registration is valid in all the provinces and territories of Canada, even the ones in which the mark is not used. This means that even if you do not use your trademark in, for example, Alberta, you can still stop another person or business from using a confusingly similar trademark in that province. If you only have an unregistered trademark, it is only protected in the geographic regions in which it is made known.
Using the registration as a basis for obtaining a registration in other countries. Through international treaties, the owner of a Canadian trademark registration can use their registration as a basis to obtain a trademark registration in another country. While it is still possible to obtain a foreign trademark registration without a Canadian registration, the existence of a Canadian registration may make it easier to obtain a foreign registration.
Easier to prevent others from using an identical or confusingly similar trademark. The owner of an unregistered trademark has the onus of showing that the trademark is known in the particular region or regions it has been used and this is difficult to prove, time consuming and costly. Once a trademark is registered it is presumptively valid and the obligation is on the potential infringer to show that the registration is not valid.
Increasing the value/goodwill of your business. Whether you wish to license, franchise, sell your business or attract investors to help grow your business, a registered trademark is a valuable asset and another form of property to show to prospective licensees, franchisees, buyers and investors as part of your intellectual property portfolio. When a business is sold for a higher price than what is considered its fair market value, the additional price is attributed to the business’ intangible assets, of which goodwill typically forms a significant part. Further, in Canada, you can sue someone else for depreciating the goodwill of your trademark only if it is registered.

You may start using your business name, logo, or brand name before applying to register it as a trademark, but we recommend applying as soon as possible. It is important to note that merely obtaining a provincial or federal business name registration does not guarantee that you will have the rights to actually use that name as a “trademark” across Canada, or stop others from using your business name as a trademark. In particular, somebody else with a previously used or registered trademark that is identical or confusingly similar to your business name may have legitimate grounds to prevent you from using your business name even if you registered the business name first.

For further information or to begin the process of registering your trademark, please contact us by phone (416) 847-0054 or by email at