When small businesses talk about intellectual property, it’s always one of their highest priorities. In fact, a growing business’ intellectual property (including things like trademarks registration, copyrights, and patents) is what separates continued long-term expansion from early floundering and regrettable plateaus in growth that could have been avoided.

If you’re unfamiliar with intellectual property or unsure of what composes intellectual property, take a look below at some of the questions we’ve gone ahead and answered for you.

1) What’s the Difference Between Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents?

This is a common question, but luckily it has a simple answer! Copyright protects creative pieces that most often take the form of literature, music, songs, or visual art. Patents are used to protect new processes, inventions or even improvements to design. A trademark protects a product or service name, a company logo, or a tagline (slogan).

2) What Are Trademark Rights?

The official registration of a trademark is an important way to increase and extend trademarks registration rights, but registration is not always necessary. In fact, trademark rights are maintained through the continued use of the trademark itself in your products or services.

3) Can I Register a Trademark for Every Product and/or Service that My Business Offers?

You’re able to obtain registration for any specific goods and/or services that are integral to your business (and that are listed in your application!).  But take note: the more products or services you want to cover, the more you’ll pay in application filing fees.

4) Why Do I Need My Trademarks registration?

Even though you may have the name of your brand or business on a public website or storefront does not mean that it is fully protected by trademark law. In order to get full protection, you’ll need to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the Canadian Trademarks Registration Office or the Trademarks Office in your jurisdiction. Having a registered trademark will make it much easier to enforce trademark rights, pursue any infringers, and take them to federal court for the unauthorized use of your trademark.

5) My Business Name is Incorporated; Do I Still Need a Trademark?

Unfortunately, simply incorporating or registering a corporate name does not create any trademark rights, nor does it constitute any type of government approval for you to use the name as a trademark.

6) I Have a Domain Name; Do I Still Need a Trademark?

Unless you are using the domain name as a trademark (a source indicator) on your website, merely registering it as a domain name does not by itself create trademark rights.

7) What Happens if I Stop Using My Trademark?

In many jurisdictions, including Canada and the US, trademark rights are maintained through the continued use of the trademark. This means that, if a company stops using, abandons or neglects a trademark, a court may find that it has abandoned its rights. Then, other companies would be free to adopt and use the mark as their own. In fact, in the US, you must file mandatory post-registration documents to prove that the products and services listed in your registration have remained in use.

8) Can I File a Trademark Application Just to Preserve a Name or Motto? Can I Just Protect my Company Brand?

Unfortunately, you cannot register a trademark if you have no intention of using it; it doesn’t work if your goal is to just “keep people away from it” or “make it yours”.

Also, you always have to list specific products for your trademark even if you are protecting your “company brand”. A trademark (no matter what kind of kind of trademark it is) is always filed for specific products. You simply cannot file a trademark without listing the specific products or services that are sold or will be sold under this name.

9) Is it True that Trademarks are Territorial?

Yes. You’ll have to register your trademark with the trademark office in every country where you want trademark protection. Just because you registered in Canada does not mean that you are going to be protected in the United States, and vice versa.

10) Should I Save on Professional Fees and File my Trademark Myself?

Not a good idea. While it’s possible to file yourself, working alongside a trademark professional will ensure that all the necessary steps are taken care of, which will help minimize costly registration mistakes and possibly speed up the registration process.

11) I Found Such a Cool Name that Clearly Describes my Products!

Be careful; remember that the more closely your new trademark merely describes the product, its functions, or its features, the more likely you’ll have problems registering it.  You are always better off picking a name that is not merely descriptive.

12) So When Can I Use Trademark Symbols?

It depends on where you’re located. In Canada, there are no marking requirements to prevent you from using the trademark symbol. However, it’s always a good idea to use them when you do have ownership of said trademarks. In the US, however, you may not use the ® symbol with a trademark until that trademark is officially registered (not just filed).

13) If you are an Amazon Seller, Registering your Trademark is Very Important!

If you are a private label seller on Amazon, registering your trademark is extremely important as registration will allow you to get into Amazon Brand Registry 2 to have full control over your products and services!

We understand that this can be a lot of information to take in when it comes intellectual property, trademarks registration, and trademark protection! If you have any other questions about the trademarking processor if you’d just like to talk with a trademark expert about your plans for registration—please feel to give