You've started your own business; you've got a product or service that's sure to sell, you've chosen a great name, and you have a creative logo. You're all set! But wait... are you protected?

Trade-marks and copyrights are two types of intellectual property protection that can be important throughout the lifetime of your business. A trade-mark is a word, sound or design that distinguishes your product or service from others in the marketplace. A copyright gives you the sole right to produce a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work in any form, or to allow others to use your work.

Although using a mark for a certain length of time can establish your ownership under common law, registration of your trade-mark provides stronger rights that can protect you across Canada. Registering your trade-mark protects your:

  • Business name
  • Website or domain name
  • Logo
  • Name of your product or service
  • Company slogan

The more you use your trade-mark, the more customers will associate your business with it, and the less likely they will be to confuse it with similar products or services. In the long run, using your trade-mark can help you retain the goodwill or brand equity that has been built up around your business. A registered trade-mark will protect you if someone tries to use a name that is similar to yours in order to make a profit.

Similarly, although your original works are protected automatically as soon as you create them, registering your copyright:

  • Provides evidence of your claim to exclusive ownership across Canada
  • Can help ward off potential infringers
  • Keeps you from infringing on others' rights
  • Allows others to find you when seeking permission to use your work

You can apply to register for a copyright or trade-mark for a fee. After registration, you may want to monitor the market, as well as the Copyright and intellectual property and the Canadian Copyrights Database to prevent others from infringing on your rights.

Explore our Canadian Trade-Marks Database section to learn more about the various intellectual property mechanisms that can help safeguard your original ideas, inventions and artistic creations.