What is a Trademark?


A Canada trademark can consist of a word, slogan, logo, symbol, design or any combination thereof, adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his or her goods or services and to distinguish them from those manufactured and sold by others. Examples are everywhere you look: the words “Coca Cola” and the Nike “swoosh” logo are but just two.

It is the “good will” associated with trademarks which gives them their value and keeps the consumers interested in purchasing one manufacturer’s products over another. A trademark generally indicates the source of the goods and services, although it may also indicate that the goods or services meet a particular standard of quality. In such a case, it is called a Certification mark


Trademark Strenght

Strong trademarks, from a legal point of view, are those that are fanciful, coined or arbitrary. Weak trademarks are descriptive or suggestive marks.

Although from a marketing point of view it is tempting to choose a trademark which describes the product, such a descriptive mark presents legal difficulties. Generally, if it would be unfair to prevent others from using a descriptive term in association with a product or service, then such a trademark will not be allowed to register by the Trademarks Office (e.g. “shoe” for footware).


Trade Names

A trade name, on the other hand, is a name under which a particular business is carried out, such as a partnership name or corporate name. Trade names function as identifiers – i.e. who is that particular business. Trade names are not usually tied to particular goods or services, but rather to a legal entity such as a corporation or an individual.

When a trade name is displayed on goods or is associated with services, it may also function as a trademark. However, such “use” of a trade name must meet the technical criteria applied to regular trademarks, before a trade name will properly function as a trademark.



Trademarks may be registered or unregistered. Unregistered trademarks are usually weaker and more difficult to enforce than registered trademarks. A Trademark Registration provides significant advantages over unregistered marks.

If you are interested in obtaining a registration for your trademark, please fill-out our trademark application form.



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