We help a lot of marketers and business owners choose new names. Whether it’s a name for a new product, or a new offer or a whole new business, one of the most important steps in the naming process is ensuring the name is available for how you plan to use it.
There are two main places where you should check to determine if your proposed business name is available: the register of trademarks and sources or databases of unregistered trademarks.
When clients come to us for help with trademarking a name, whether its through our online trademarking platform Markably® or through our full service law firm Mason PC, included in that trademark registration service is a free search of the trademarks register.
We include this search with all our trademark registration services for a number of reasons.
First, we don’t want to file a trademark application for a trademark that someone else has already registered or applied to register. We don’t want your application to be refused, and you don’t want that either!
Additionally, it takes a ridiculously long time for the Trademarks Office to examine a trademark application. The minimum amount of time is 24-months, and in a lot of cases, it’s even longer. You should not wait 24-months to find out if someone else already owns a trademark registration for your name. By then, you’re probably well on the road to using it and becoming known for it. If you learn after all this time that your name is not available, not only will you have to re-brand, but you may also be at risk of liability for trademark infringement.
We include a trademark register search in all our registration services because we aim to file trademark applications that are rubber stamped in examination. This means that we aim to file trademark applications that encounter no objections whatsoever. Without doing a pre-filing search of the trademarks register, you can’t have any idea if there will be objections.
What’s not included in our trademark registration services are searches of “unregistered trademarks”. These are names being used by other companies that they’ve never taken the steps to register as a trademark.
There are a lot of unregistered trademarks in Canada.
And you can usually find them just by searching Google or social media. Searching these databases for unregistered trademarks is something that you should do long before you start the trademarking process.
It can certainly happen that our trademark register search comes up completely clear, but a Google search identifies another user of the exact or a very similar name.
If there’s another company using your name, just because you’re the first to file a trademark application for it, does not mean that you’re entitled to register and use it.
Unregistered trademark owners have enforceable legal rights in Canada. They can use those unregistered trademark rights to oppose your trademark application and successfully block you from getting a registration. They can also, in limited circumstances, apply to invalidate your trademark registration after it issues. They can also sue you for trademark passing off.
This is why it is so, so important for you to look at unregistered trademark sources, as well as the trademarks register, when determining whether a name is available for your use.
You can hire us to conduct an in-depth trademark search for you. Our full service trademark protection law firm Mason PC offers this as a paid service. We’ll search the trademarks register, business name registries, domain names, social media and Google, and we’ll evaluate each and every hit for its potential for confusion with your name.
However, in our experience, the vast majority of problematic unregistered trademarks that are disclosed in these in-depth searches, could have been disclosed in just a few minutes searching Google before you invested anything in the name.
Don’t overlook this step in the naming process. It could save you valuable time and money in growing your brand.
If you’ve done all you can to search the availability of your name and need help to take it over the finish line and file your trademark application, get started today by completing our trademark questionnaire.