Changes in Canadian Trademark Law that may affect your brand protection

Currently, Canada is a use-based system where trademarks have to be used in Canadian commerce to be registered (or used and registered in another treaty country like the U.S.). Proposed Canadian legislation, the Economic Action Plan Act of 2014, eliminates the use requirement, opening the door to other parties and even competitors to register your mark and prevent you from using it in Canada.  This happened to Apple in the Chinese market where someone registered the iPod mark in China before Apple did.

Nontraditional marks will also have a higher burden for registration in Canada.  To register sound marks, distinctiveness evidence will now be required.

If Canada is an important market for your company, you should take steps to seek Canadian trademark registration of your marks now.  You should also consider a watch service for Canadian trademark applications to detect competitive activity in time to take action.