Skip to main content

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is:

  • a word, (coca-cola ®)
  • a symbol
  • a logo
  • a design (Burberry pattern)
  • an internet address (
  • a phone number (Pizza Pizza’s 737-1111)
  • a shape/mode of wrapping  ®
  • colour applied to a surface (UPS outfit)
  • a combination that distinguishes the goods and/or services of one person from that of another in the marketplace.

A trademark is different from a trade name. A trade name is the name by which a business identifies itself. This may also be a corporate name such as OLLIP P.C.

A trademark is part of the umbrella of creative rights known as intellectual property, an asset which can be, for instance, used as a source of collateral to obtain financing.

A registered trademark is a government granted monopoly that gives you the exclusive right to use your trademark in association with certain goods or services for a period of 10 years (subject to renewal) throughout Canada. It also prevents others from importing or selling in Canada any goods or services bearing your trademark. A trademark registration in Canada does not extend to foreign countries. There is no universal or worldwide trademark. You must apply separately in and for other countries. Also, foreign trademark registrations do not protect a trademark in Canada.

All that being said, a change to trademark law took place in June 2019, with Canada’s joining of the Madrid System / Protocol. The Madrid System is a centrally-administered system for obtaining trademark protection in a variety of jurisdictions through a single, consolidated process. It makes it possible to request trademark protection in one or more member states of the Madrid System by filing one application at WIPO in Geneva, Switzerland. The Madrid System covers 121 countries in total, including the EU member states and the three countries of the Benelux (Post-Brexit, the UK will no longer be covered when designating the EU). The ability to designate such a large number of countries and regions in an international trademark registration makes it an increasingly appealing option for businesses.

That is, Canadian businesses and innovators now have access to a modernized trademark regime that is aligned with other jurisdictions, thus lowering filing cost and increasing the ease of doing business internationally while protecting your IP assets.

In summary, trademarks foster the power of brands which create instant recognition, customer loyalty and allow premium pricing. Our trademark lawyers in Ottawa and Toronto can assist with your brand protection through registering your trademark.