Last week, I have delivered a seminar on trademarks through Vancouver Business Network.
Among other things, I explained that business owners can file their own trademark applications in Canada because there is no mandatory rule that would require them to use a trademark agent for that. I also said that it may not be such a great idea if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The night after the seminar, I received an email from a business owner who, about a year ago, was shopping around for a good deal to register three trademarks for his business.
Eventually, he decided to file them on his own.
Unfortunately, he now received office actions for all three of them.
One is especially troublesome, because the examiner is of the opinion that the mark is descriptive of the services in association with which it was applied for.
The problem is not with the mark itself, the problem is with the way the business owner drafted the statement of wares and services. He should have worded the statement of wares and services more broadly, so that it wouldn’t be essentially the description of the mark itself. Unfortunately, he can no longer do that, because after the application has been filed, one cannot broaden the scope of goods and services any more.
So the end result is: he saved a few thousand dollars on lawyer fees, yet he wasted a year investing his time, effort and money building a brand he can’t register as a trademark.
Was it worth it?
It is with great pride and pleasure that I can finally announce that Protecting Your Ideas and Covering Your Assets® is now a registered trademark of Mincov Law Corporation.
It was more than just a “file & wait” experience, since the Canadian Intellectual Property Office cited another trademark “Protect Your Ideas” previously registered by another firm against my application. It took some creative effort, including references to French language translation of the trademark, to overcome this objection.
First down, several more to go.
I am also excited to announce that I will be conducting a free workshop on trademarks through Vancouver Business Network on September 17, 2013 at 6PM.
The original title of the presentation “You got a brand. Now what?” was renamed to “How To Protect Your Brand With Trademarks” for greater clarity. But the idea remains the same, it’s not enough to come up with a good name, logo or tagline. As any other business asset, you need to protect your trademarks.
No entrepreneur starts a business with an idea that their business will be just like everybody else’s. How many people refer to Facebook as “Mark Zuckerberg’s website?” Successful brands transcend their owners. This is the power of a brand. And if you don’t protect it, you are not being serious about your business.
The Meetup organizers charge $5.00 at the door, but the workshop itself is free.
Please RSVP at http://www.meetup.com/the-vancouver-business-network/events/138147612/ to attend this event.
If you are an entrepreneur, you need to know when, how and why to protect your brand.
If you are in the business of brand development (designers, advertisers, marketers, printers, etc.), you will learn how to provide massive added value to your customers at no extra cost to you.
If you want clear, no B.S. answers about your trademarks, you don’t want to miss this presentation.
If you came to a restaurant and asked if they could make a good steak for you, and the waitress told you that they’re not sure but they are sure going to try very hard – what are the odds you would order it?
If you asked the waitress how much the steak is going to cost, and she told you that it costs $10 to place it on the grill and then the chef is going to charge you by the minute depending on how difficult it is to cook it to the perfect temperature – how likely would you be to order it?
If – not being convinced that they are any good at steaks – you then asked the waitress if they would offer you a refund if the steak would not come out right, and told you that there would be no refunds because they would have invested a lot of time, products and effort trying to the best of their abilities – would you ever order it from that place?
Below is a typical response that a business owner would receive from the vast majority of law firms and trademark agents in Canada to the question how much it would cost to register a trademark in Canada and whether or not the firm would provide any guarantees:
With regard to approximate costs, we attach a copy of our latest Schedule of Fees for your reference. For your convenience, we highlight the approximate costs of preparing and filing a single trademark application as $XXX plus official fees of $XXX. If the trademark application proceeds directly to allowance, the fees applicable to registration of the trademark application will be about $XXX plus official fees of $XXX.
If an adverse examination report is issued during examination, we will docket such response and report to you with our recommendations to overcome the objections raised in the adverse report as well as the approximate costs. The prosecution costs for the matter will vary depending on the nature of the objections raised and the hourly rate of the lawyer preparing the response. The writer’s hourly rate is $XXX. The approximate cost of reporting to you will be from $XXX. Complex objections requiring submission of evidence are subject to highly variable cost.
Most applications take 14 – 18 months from the date of application to achieve registration if there are no significant delays, but if the application is ultimately unsuccessful, we do not offer a refund.
No wonder most business owners are terrified of registering their trademarks in Canada. A low-cost application fee is simply a bait to get the customer in the door to then bill and bill until the application is either registered or refused. What business owner would not agree to pay a few extra hundred dollars after investing a thousand already? And then just another few extra hundred dollars here and there?
Don’t believe me? Call any law firm in Canada and ask two questions:
1. Can you guarantee a fixed flat rate that would cover the entire process from start to finish, including responses to all office actions that may be issued during the process?
2. Do you guarantee that the trademark will be registered, and if the application is ultimately unsuccessful, will I get my money back?
Now compare their response with the answer you will receive from the Trademark Factory:
We charge a flat rate of $2,000 + tax + government fees for one trademark application in Canada (the total comes to $2,690). This amount covers everything from the initial search of registered trademarks, drafting and filing the trademark application to unlimited follow-up correspondence with the Trademarks Office, responding to all office actions, filing the declaration of use, and obtaining the registration certificate.
We guarantee that the Canadian Intellectual Property will approve your trademarks. Otherwise, you get all of your money back, including the fees you paid to the government.
If you use a remarkable name, logo or tagline for your business, the Trademark Factory™ is the perfect solution to register them as trademarks in Canada.
As I wrote in the previous post Four Important Elements of a Trademark Application, one of the elements of a trademark application is a list of products and services in association with which the applicant is seeking to register the trademark.
Often, self-represented trademark applicants see this as an opportunity to promote their business.
I am a sucker for using non-traditional ways of marketing, but a trademark application is really not the right vehicle.
In the vast majority of cases, Canadian Intellectual Property Office is going to issue an office action suggesting that “a statement in more specific terms of the wares and services is required”. Most self-represented trademark applicants don’t know how to respond to these, and so they abandon their trademark applications, losing precious time and money.
Here are a few examples of how NOT to write your statement of wares and services:
We offer, fitness orientation, cardiovascular, flexibility and strengthening equipment. Plus club associates are there to help you in your fitness endevours. There is also support, motivation. and coaching. Included are change rooms and club amenities.
We offer special rates, offers, discounts, promotions on exclusive products and services related to travel, entertainment and shopping.
The requested trademark will be used to describe how our service is delivered. We provide personal care to seniors. We assist seniors with activities of daily living such as meal preparation, personal care, light housekeeping, etc. We offer choice, comfort and dignity to our clients who want to stay in their homes.
You are not trying to sell anything through your trademark application.
You are not trying to convince Canadian Intellectual Property Office that your products or services are good enough to deserve to be registered as a trademark.
To be honest, Canadian Intellectual Property Office does not care about the quality of your products or services.
All it cares about is whether the list of products and services is specific enough to clearly delineate in association with which products and services others can or cannot use a similar trademark.
Getting your trademarks registered in Canada used to be a complex process full of misunderstanding and frustration. That is until the Trademark Factory™ was launched. Find out why the Trademark Factory is an optimal solution to register your trademarks in Canada.
Business owners who want to protect their branding need to know that there are four important elements in any trademark application.
This is important regardless of whether they use the Trademark Factory™ to register their trademarks, whether they file themselves or whether they use a different trademark agent or a lawyer (why would they?).
These four elements are: trademark owner, trademark, goods / services, and dates.
The first one is straightforward: a registered trademark must be owned by an entity, a partnership or an individual. The public and Canadian Intellectual Property Office need to know who it is. If during the registration process, the trademark changes hands, you can always assign the pending trademark application to a new owner.
A trademark application may only cover one single trademark. If you have several trademarks, each will require a separate application. While there is often a temptation to combine several trademarks into one application to cut the cost of registration, it’s really not a good idea, especially if you use thus combined trademarks separately. This is because in Canada any trademark that has not been used as registered for 3 years or more, can be cancelled on request of any third party. So if you lump a logo and a tagline into a single trademark registration, and then your tagline changes, you may lose rights in both the old tagline and the logo. This is because the registration protects your rights to the entire trademark and not to its elements.
Importantly, trademarks (whether registered or not) don’t give their owners a monopoly over the name or the logo itself. They only give a monopoly over their association with specific products and services for which the name or logo are used. For example, BLUE SHIELD trademark is owned in Canada by two completely different entities: one in association with prepaid financing and administration of medical services, and the other in association with various items related to welding. This is why the trademark application requires the applicant to specify in association with which products (wares) and services they use or are planning to use the trademark. Canadian Intellectual Property Office is very pedantic about the way the list of these products and services is drafted. If an examiner believes that a term in that list is not specific enough, they will issue an office action requiring that the application be amended. I will provide several tips about drafting the list of goods and services in my next post.
Finally, the dates. In Canada, one can only get a trademark registration if the trademark is being used in association with each and every one of the goods and services listed in the application. It is possible to apply for a registration before the use starts (it’s called “proposed use”), but the registration certificate will not be issued until the business owner files what’s called a declaration of use. A simple rule of thumb is: only list those products and services that you are currently using the trademark for and those that you believe you may start using it for in the next 2-3 years. If you have already been using the trademark at the time when you file the application, it is important to specify the earliest date that you can prove with evidence that you were using the trademark for.
The trademarking process used to be full of frustrations and complications for business owners. That is until the Trademark Factory™ was launched with its unique triple Peace-of-Mind guarantee. We guarantee that you will know your budget to a penny before you spend a dime; we guarantee that your trademark will be approved by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office – or you get all of your money back, including what you pay to the government; and we guarantee that you will not be frustrated with not being able to get a hold of your lawyer. This service is really the natural choice of business owners who value their branding and want to protect it in Canada.
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