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What are Trademarks?

Trade-marks include trade-names, logos, and slogans which identify a company's goods and services and which distinguishes that company from its competitors.  Note: there are three recognized spellings for the term trade-mark, namely "trademark", "trade-mark" and "trade mark". All three are correct; although the term trademark is preferred in the United States while the terms trade-mark and trade mark are more prevalent in Canada and the UK. We use all three interchangeably throughout this website.

A trademark can be a name or word(s), a graphical image (called a logo or design mark), a sound, a series of musical notes or even a particular three dimensional appearance.  A registered trademark is a trademark that has been registered with the government.  A registered trademark protects the owner of the mark from competitors who might use a confusingly similar mark.  Go to our trademark information page for more detailed information about trademarks.  A common law trademark is a trademark which is not registered, but which is so famous that it can be protected.  Common law trademarks are harder to enforce and harder to get.

A registered trademark is often one of the most valuable assets a company can own.  Like any property, a registered trademark can be bought, sold and even licensed.  However, only ONE person (company or other legal entity) can own a trademark.  It is not possible to jointly own registered trademarks.

In Summary - A Trademark:

  • Includes names, logos, slogans, sounds, combination of colours or even a shape;
  • Can be registered or common law;
  • Protect a company's "good will" or reputation, and
  • Can be a valuable asset which may be bought, sold or licensed.

Check out our detailed Trademark Information page for more information on trademarks and how to use them.