Registering a trademark is an essential step for any business owner regardless your business’ size, location, or product or service. Trademarks protect your reputation and your ownership of the distinctive words and marks that make your business unique. Here are the top five things you need to know about trademarks.
1. The definition of a trademark.
A trademark is a word or a combination of words, sounds, or designs that are used to distinguish your goods or services from other companies. For example, Nike’s trademarks include the “swoosh” design and “Just Do It” slogan. Trademarks should not be confused with other forms of intellectual property, such as (a) copyrights, which provide protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works; (b) industry designs, which are visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament, or any combination, which are applied to a finished product; or (c) patents, which apply to new inventions or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention.
2. A trademark protects your brand.
Owners go to great lengths to brand their business. A trademark protects that brand. Your trademark identifies your goods or services in the public’s mind and how they are perceived in the marketplace. Your business’ success depends almost entirely on the message you convey, and the image you project. Your trademark helps you establish a presence and enables you to stand out from your competitors. People tend to be drawn to familiar names and designs if they are associated with quality and reliability. Take Disney for instance.
3. Registering your trademark is important.
Trademarks provide legal entitlement to intellectual property. Registration of a trademark is direct evidence of ownership. This means that in a dispute, the other party will have to prove actual ownership of the mark, or prove that its trademark is distinctive and will not cause confusion for the public. A registered trademark provides the exclusive use of the trademark across Canada for 15 years, and is renewable every 15 years thereafter. Registration also helps prevent competitors from selling essentially the same products or offering the same services under a similar trademark, so the public won’t confuse your goods with your competitors’.
Take for example a lawsuit filed in 2013 by Canada Goose against Sears. According to Canada Goose, Sears is selling lower quality “knock-offs” of its high-end Kensington jacket. According to Canada Goose, the Sears Alpinetek jackets are so similar that at least one consumer has mistaken the Alpinetek for a Kensington. Both jackets are red, 3-quarter length, have fur-trimmed hoods, and have circular logos on the top of the left arm. The logo designs are different apart from being circular, as shown below. In response, Sears noted that its brand was quite distinct from Canada Goose’s, and that many brands use circular logos, which Canada Goose could not claim it invented. Do you think the logos are similar enough in the circumstances to constitute trademark infringement?
4. Know the difference between trademarks vs. trade names.
It is important for business owners to understand the difference between trademarks and trade names. Trade names are names under which a company runs their business. A trade name can only be registered under the Trade-Marks Act if it is also used as that business’ trademark; that is, to identify its goods and services. If a business uses an unregistered trade name, and another business subsequently applies to register a similar trademark, the registration may be opposed. Even if the trademark becomes registered, the other company may file a lawsuit asking the court to strike it.
An example of this potential issue is illustrated in the case Woodpecker Hardwood Floors (2000) Inc. v. Wiston International Trade Co.. Woodpecker Hardware was granted an interlocutory injunction preventing Wiston from using the word “woodpecker” when selling products, until the Court had made a final decision on the matter. Wiston unsuccessfully appealed the injunction. Both companies sell hardwood flooring products. Woodpecker Hardwood had used the trade name “Woodpecker” from at least 2000. It did not register “Woodpecker” as a trademark. Wiston was incorporated in 2009 and operated as Wiston until 2013, at which time it registered logos, insignia, and word marks, some of which contained the word “woodpecker”. Woodpecker Hardwood sued Wiston for “passing off, or attempting to pass off”, their products “in such a way as to cause confusion between their wares and services and those of [Woodpecker Hardware]”. Woodpecker Hardwood also sought a declaration that Wiston’s trademark was invalid. As of the date of this article, the matter was still ongoing.
5. It’s Important to know the process, and where to find help.
The very first step any business owner should take when preparing to register a trademark is to conduct a preliminary search through the Canadian Trademarks Database. The search will help determine whether your trademark could cause confusion with one already registered. According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”), some factors to take into account include (a) whether it looks or sounds like, or suggests a similar idea, to other trademarks; and (b) whether the trademarks are used to market similar goods. Trade names may be recorded separately in each province under provincial registration; therefore, there is no central inventory containing all current trade names. These searches may be complex, and use of a registered trademark agent is recommended.
Once your preliminary search is completed, you may submit your application to CIPO. Various fees apply throughout the process. Once CIPO has received your application, it will be reviewed. You may be asked to provide additional information. Once the application process is completed, CIPO will acknowledge receipt of your application and will assign a filing date. This date is important in the event of a dispute, as it may be used to determine who sought registration first. Your application is then added to the Database as a pending trademark. The next step is an examination by CIPO of your trademark to determine whether there are any conflicts with existing or pending trademarks. Your trademark is also examined for compliance with the requirements set out in the Trade-marks Act. CIPO will publish your application in the Trademark Journal, leaving time for opposition, or challenges, to your application by others. If an opposition is submitted, there will be a determination by a CIPO officer. If no opposition is filed, your application is allowed and your trademark is registered. This is a simplified explanation of the process. To learn more and obtain assistance, please refer to CIPO’s Guide to Trademarks.
Please note: This article is for information only, and should not be relied upon. It is not intended to be legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. Every situation depends on its circumstances. The law changes rapidly and often without notice. If you have a question or concern, you should consult a lawyer or registered trademark agent.
What Can SEO Do For Your Business?
In the past when people needed something, the first place they would look would be the newspaper or maybe even the phone book, but those days are long gone. Now, when someone is looking for a local product or service, the first place they look is online. In fact, more than 97% of people begin their searches for a local business online (Forbes.)
What this means is that if you can’t be found online for keywords that relate to your business, you’re losing a lot of customers and money to your competitors.
As the first page of Google is what gets all the clicks, this is where you want your business to be, and as close to the top as possible. SEO (search engine optimization) is so valuable because it puts your business directly in front of potential customers at the exact moment they’re looking for a service you offer.
When customers use Google and other search engines, they’re showing something called “buyer intent,” as they’re actively looking for someone to buy from. This is something that the newspaper, radio, billboards, and even television can’t compete with.
If your business shows up at the exact moment when a potential customer is looking for a service you offer, you’ve got a much higher chance of converting them from a lead to a customer. Higher rankings mean more clicks, and more clicks mean more customers, and more customers mean more revenues for your business.
So What Can We Do About It?
SEO stands for search engine optimization and is all about doing the things we need to do to demonstrate to the search engines that your business deserves a spot at the top of the rankings.
We do this through a combination of on-page optimization, off-page link building, and by sending relevant and authoritative signals to your website that prove it really is the answer to your customers problems.
When we do this, we’re rewarded with higher search engine rankings, more leads, more clicks, more views, more customers, and more revenue.
To find out if an SEO strategy is right for your company, contact us today for a no obligation assessment of your online marketing where we’ll come up with a competitive analysis and provide a detailed quote to start bringing in more customers to your business with SEO.
Fore! Today you can find us at Hole #3 at the Crown Isle Golf Course. Sponsoring a hole and hanging out with some wonderful golfers at the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation Golf Classic.
Feeling Like a Fish Out of Water?
At a Loss for Words? Pressed for Time?
We know that you are amazing at whatever it is you do and, yes, we know that you learned how to write in school. But do you know how to write copy specifically designed for the Internet? And, seriously, do you have the time?
By hiring a professional web writer, you can leave the fear of deadlines and brainstorming up to someone with the time, talent and experience to get the job done on schedule and on budget. No need to worry about grammar, spelling, and eye-catching headings. A professional writer will ensure your web copy has a polished, professional appearance that is perfectly suited to your specific type of business. And you can continue making money doing whatever it is that you do best.
A professional writer can help you streamline the writing and website development process by:
- Working in collaboration with the web designer, to create a sitemap and creative concept for your website
- Helping you identify your target market
- Developing content from your ideas and/or previous documents
- Ensuring consistency in writing style and spelling
- Avoiding clichés, typos, and poor grammar
- Identifying missing material and researching new content.
Fishing for Website Visitors – Understanding SEO
“SEO” is not just an Internet buzzword!
In plain English, Search Engine Optimization or ‘SEO’ is the name given to what happens when someone ‘searches’ for a product, service or business on the Internet. When used creatively and correctly, certain words will help rank your business higher than others in your community, and your website will display higher in the listings.
In simple terms, when people go looking to find exactly what YOU do, SEO is what helps drive your website listing to the top of the page. It is the process of getting traffic to your website from the free, organic, natural search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, based on what these search engines ‘think’ is most relevant to users.
Just as you can’t catch a salmon on a fishing lure designed to hook a rainbow trout, you can’t catch a search engine’s interest with the wrong (or poor) choice of words.
How Important is SEO?
SEO is to websites, as water is to fish
Think of your website like a fish, only it is swimming in a sea of words. (And there are SHARKS in those muddy waters!)
Not only does great content help increase your ranking, it shows Google/Bing/Yahoo that you are an expert in your field. Yes, some companies actually PAY the various search engines to guarantee that their websites land at the top of the page, but understand that better ranking can also be achieved with the right choice of words.
Write Here! Right Now!
At JV Host Web Design, we work in collaboration with two of the best website writers in the industry, based right here in our community. (Both have been members of the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada for many years.) You can rest assured that these professional writers will work with you to fully understand your business and what it is that you hope to achieve by creating a new website.
If you have questions about what a copywriter can do for your website, contact us today.
As a business owner, one of the most frequently used tools for communicating with your customers—and potential customers—is your website As such, it’s crucial that the experience for your users is seamless. Your website is having a conversation with your customer for you, so it is important to be clear, concise and informative. With the ever-changing landscape of online browsing, your website has a new challenge to overcome: How to communicate through mobile devices and tablets effectively when your website is designed only for a computer screen.
The mobile audience is growing and they’ll be looking for your website. What will they see? With over half of Canadians using smartphones and other mobile devices, it’s imperative more now than ever that your website be responsive. What is a responsive website you ask? A responsive website is one that resizes itself to optimize usability on mobile devices—from the smallest smartphone to the largest tablet, all the way up to a full sized monitor.
Here are six reasons why your website needs to be responsive:
#1 One Website For All Devices
When a website is built, it contains a set of design instructions called a custom stylesheet (CSS) that tells the browser how your site should look. A responsive website takes those instructions one step further and includes instructions for different screen sizes. These instructions might say to use a larger font size, make images smaller and to use a different method for navigation. A website needs to look different on a smartphone compared to a tablet compared to a computer screen.
Some businesses have a full-sized site and a mobile site. This means two websites to have built, with twice the time and money spent on maintenance. With a responsive website, you save money maintaining only one website.
#2 Google Favours Responsive Websites in Search Results
Starting in April 2015, Google has changed their algorithm to boost the ranking of responsive website pages over non-responsive pages when a search originates from a mobile device. By doing this, Google has taken a proactive stance on the quality of the online experience for mobile device users. With the number of mobile device users increasing each year, it’s a great policy to ensure that the evolution of online user experience keeps up with the readily-available hardware.
#3 Better User Experience
Have you ever tried to view a full-sized website on a smartphone? Even on the most cutting edge phones, a non-responsive website can be tedious and frustrating. A user needs to zoom in to make the font large enough to read, then scroll both vertically and horizontally to read the full content. Load times can also be onerous for users viewing over a mobile network. Don’t make things hard for your customers. Remove the barriers and allow them to browse your site with ease.
#4 Show You’re in Touch with your Users
As a smartphone user, nothing tickles you more when you load up a website to find it is optimized for a phone. You can almost hear the collective intake of breath from users around the world, cringing during that initial load; wondering what kind of torturous experience they’re about to endure to shop at their favourite store or read their favourite blog.
When so many websites out there are not ready for the responsive revolution, it’s easy to stand out from your competition! Your viewers will see that you understand them; that you’ve taken their browsing habits into consideration and are ready to communicate with them in any way they would like. This adds credibility to your business and by extension, your brand—the perception of your business. Your business looks prepared, organized and proactive, of which it is all three, of course.
#5 Get the Jump On Your Competition
According to CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registry Authority, only 45.5% of Canadian businesses have a website. How many of those are responsive? Responsive websites are still a relatively new concept for many small business owners. Get the jump on your competition. When Google is promoting responsive sites, your site will have less competition at the top.
#6 Mobile Device and Usage is Skyrocketing
Smartphone usage in Canada has grown to 57%, which is higher than the global average of 47%. 6 out of 10 Canadians access the Internet with a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet.
Never before have there been as many devices to choose from. The shift of usage in many users is away from the conventional computer and onto a tablet or smartphone. When you open your website up to a wider audience, you will increase the amount of traffic and results from your website. Don’t miss out on this growing audience!
There are many good reasons to have a responsive website, but for some business owners this may seem like a costly endeavour. Unfortunately, time and technology is moving forward and it’s imperative that your business keeps up as well. If your business is worried that it may not see the return on the investment, it may be time to look at your goals and review your entire online strategy and take your website in a direction that delivers a return you want.
Unsure if your website is responsive? You can check it here with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test.
JV Host & Design
JV Host & Design has been connecting businesses in Winnipeg and surrounding areas with customers through professional engaging website and graphic and print design for over 5 years.
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