If I Register My Trademark, Does It Mean No One Can Use It?

It's important to understand what to expect from getting your trademark registered.

So if you just got your trademark registration certificate, does it mean that no one will ever be able to use your trademark?

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TRANSCRIPT

So the general answer to that is yes but there are four exceptions and each of them would cover one word: Can't use my trademark.

Can't really means one thing. Would it be legal or would it be not legal. There are people—surprise, surprise!—who would do things that are illegal. So just because it's illegal for them to use your trademark doesn't mean that they won't do it. What it means is that if they do it, you would have legal recourse to go after them. So just because you registered your trademark doesn't mean that automatically everybody else would never even consider breaking the law and infringing on your mark.

Second word: use. What does use actually mean? So, use has a the very specific meaning in the trademark world and it means offering your product or service under that brand to the public or for services it's also advertising that brand. So simply mentioning the name of your startup in a news post or a Facebook post or a Twitter post does not constitute use for trademark purposes. So again, just because you trademarked your brand doesn't mean that you can now silence everybody into never mentioning it as part of their conversation. As long as they are not trying to sell your product or a competing product under your brand, that's not use.

The third word is my. What is your trademark, really? And this boils down to the products and services under which you trademark your brand. You may remember one the previous videos where I said that trademarks don't give you a monopoly over words, images, or phrases themselves. What a trademark gives you is a monopoly over the mental link between those words, images, and phrases and specific products and services that you use your trademark for. So if you have a business and you, let's say, are a software company and you come up with a brilliant name for it, it doesn't mean that somebody who sells bananas can't use the same name. So they're not using your trademark because your trademark only covers a particular set of industries that you have in your trademark application, maybe a few related ones, but it doesn't cover everything.

And finally, the fourth word is trademark. So, your trademark is national, so if you only have your Canadian trademark, your Canadian trademark stops in Canada. So somebody who is using the same brand in France is not using your trademark. Your trademark does not exist in France.

So, does registering my trademark make it easier for me to stop my competitors from using my brand to advertising their stuff? And the simple answer to this question is of course yes. But take that through the prism of Can’t Use My Trademark, the four exceptions.


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Disclaimer: Please note that this post and this video are not and are not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this post or video. Your reading this post or watching this video does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this post or this video as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.

See our answers to other frequently asked questions about trademarks or leave your comments below!


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