Trade-Marks and Domain Names


Trade-marks, such as names, slogans and logos, represent the identity and reputation of a company, product, or service.

We offer a variety of services related to the protection of trade-marks and domain names in Canada and abroad, including:

  • availability and registrability searches,
  • drafting, filing and prosecuting applications,
  • status verifications of trade-marks, trade names and domain names,
  • opposition proceedings,
  • cancellation proceedings,
  • infringement and validity opinions,
  • monitoring of trade-marks and domain names, and
  • domain name arbitration procedures.

We also offer intellectual property advice and our services in litigation and arbitration and contracts, titles, and due diligence reviews related to patents.


Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  1. Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO): Fee Increase

    CIPO has announced an increase in their fees as of January 1, 2024. Their current fees will be increased by at least 25%. This increase will apply not only to trademarks, but also to patents, industrial designs and copyrights. For example, the anticipated official fee to file an application for registration of a trademark is being increased from $347.35 to $458.00 for the first class, and from $105.26 to $139.00 for each additional class. A majority of CIPO’s other fees are subject to a similar adjustment. As such, this increase will have an impact not only upon filing an application for registration, but also during the registration process and upon renewal. We therefore recommend that you review your intellectual property portfolio to determine if new applications should be filed or renewals effected before the end of the year. CIPO indicates that the increase will contribute to supporting its strategy on intellectual property which is aimed at offering services comparable to those offered worldwide. We hope that it will also reduce turnaround times!

    Read more
  2. Team trademarks: naming the champions

    Choosing the name of a sports team can be a perilous exercise. In addition to representing certain values, names are supposed to fire up the fan base and motivate the athletes themselves. It must sometimes meet with the approval of major sponsors. But when sports teams are companies seeking to profit commercially from the use of their brand, legal considerations also come into play. Team names are typically linked to the organization of sports events for which tickets are sold. They may also be associated with products such as caps or jerseys that fans take pride in wearing. In these respects, the team’s name is a trademark and does not only serves to differentiate a team from its competitors but can also help to fill a company’s coffers. Team names are often associated with logos that also embody certain values. Logos may incorporate various design features, in addition to the team name, and often displayed on a wide range of products. Trademarks in sports has given rise to various problems, as seen in the examples below. Trademark Confusion Do you remember when the Canadian Football League was home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders as well as the Ottawa Rough Riders? This type of situation is far from ideal when watching a game and from the point of view of trademarks, it is to be avoided, since it will probably be impossible for at least one of the two teams to register its trademark. Remember that trademark registrations generally grants national exclusivity. Similar nominal trademarks, however, are quite common among sports teams, particularly when different sports are involved. Examples include the New York Rangers (hockey) and the Texas Rangers (baseball), or the Florida Panthers (hockey) and the Carolina Panthers (football). This form of “nominal coexistence” might prevent one team from registering its trademark, especially if the description of the other team’s products and services is wide-ranging. For instance, if the description of the services provided by the first team to register its trademark includes the presentation of sports events or the sale of jerseys, without specifying the associated sport, there would then be a risk of confusion from the legal point of view between the two nominal trademarks.  To register as a design mark which includes both the team’s name and a logo can sometimes resolve this problem if the teams’ logos are substantially different from each other. However, this will be ineffective if the design mark primarily consists of the team’s name. In that case, the Intellectual Property Office will consider the logo along with any accompanying text to assess the likelihood of confusion. A logo that does not include the team’s name is often easier to register, provided that it is different from the logos of other existing teams. The case of teams with the same name playing the same sport in different leagues is more complicated. Such situations often arise with minor league and major league hockey teams that have the same name. No problem arises when the minor league team is owned by the same business interests, since it is then easy to conclude a licensing agreement between the two and consolidate trademark ownership to only one company. On the other hand, such situations might also stem from a random choice of name or an unconscious desire to be associated with a major league team. At the very least, teams with the same name should consider signing a coexistence agreement. For example, on January 10, 2018, the U.S. Army’s parachute team, nicknamed the Golden Knights, filed a notice of opposition with the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) calling for the rejection of the trademark registration application filed by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Both teams ending up signing a coexistence agreement: the risk of confusion between them was perhaps more limited given the very different nature of their activities. In addition, team trademarks should aim to be distinctive and should not be limited to generic descriptions of the sport or the place where the team is based. Socially unacceptable trademarks Although they may be registered and legally valid from an intellectual property perspective, team logos or names may, however, be socially unacceptable. The notion of social acceptability actually evolves over time. Some trademarks that were used for years are no longer acceptable today. (Come to think of it, were they ever?) Take trademarks like Aunt Jemima or Uncle Ben’s, which, following decades of commercial use, were renamed to be less offensive. In the world of sports, one only has to think back to the former Cleveland Indians and their logo featuring “Chief Wahoo”. In the face of social pressure, the team dropped its logo and became the Cleveland Guardians. The same phenomenon has been observed in Canada: The Edmonton Eskimos, of CFL fame, became the Edmonton Elks after the organization acknowledged that its name could be offensive to the Inuit and other Indigenous peoples of Canada. In 2019, McGill University changed the name of its varsity sports teams from the Redmen to the Redbirds. This decision followed a referendum in which 78.8% of participating students voted in favour of the name change. In 2020, the Ahuntsic College Indians became the Eagles following a student vote. To protect their trademarks, sports teams must take into account evolving standards of social acceptability. Trademarks that avoid racial or discriminatory stereotypes are more likely to “stand the test of time”. One might wonder how much longer certain team names will last. In the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings both have names that play on stereotypes that have been contested for years. In the NHL, the same questions arise for the Chicago Blackhawks. While various communities are calling for a new name and logo, others insist that the name pays tribute to a real-life Native American. In Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves have faced similar scrutiny and social pressure. Team nicknames created by fans Certain team names were created by the fans themselves, not by the owners or the organizations involved. Take, for example, the “Habs” (Montreal Canadiens), the “Als” (Montreal Alouettes) or “Nos Amours” (former Montreal Expos). Are these nicknames the intellectual property of the fans that invented them? In fact, a number of these nicknames have been successfully trademarked in Canada: “Habs” has been a registered trademark since 2003 for entertainment services and since 2007 for merchandise such as clothing and other promotional items. “Als” has been a registered trademark since 2014 for all promotional items and entertainment services. “Barça”, the nickname of Barcelona’s professional soccer club (officially FC Barcelona), has been a registered trademark in Canada since 2022 for all promotional products. However, the French nicknames “Nos Amours” (Montreal Expos) and “La Sainte-Flanelle” (Montreal Canadiens) have not yet been trademarked in Canada, although applications for “Tricolore Sports” and “Bleu Blanc Rouge” were recently filed by the Montreal Canadiens. The issue that arises stems from sports teams taking the opportunity to trademark and protect nicknames that became distinctive thanks to widespread use by fans.  Trademarks linked to a sponsor Sports teams might wish to adopt a name and /or a trademark that pays tribute to their owner or a major sponsor. One example that comes to mind is the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (now the Anaheim Ducks), which were originally named after the Disney-owned film franchise. This situation is not problematic per se since two separate companies were involved. However, things can get tricky if relations with sponsors become tense or if they decide to withdraw their sponsorship. For that reason, an agreement should be in place setting out the sponsor’s trademark rights and, if the sponsorship comes to an end, how quickly the team has to change its name and trademarks. Departing sponsors should also be prevented from interfering in the management of the team. Teams should also reserve the right to change their names and trademarks for various reasons, including reputational risk. And if a sponsor sells sports equipment or other team-related products, teams should ensure that they can sell their own promotional products without infringing the sponsor’s trademark. If not contractually regulated, such situations could even affect the validity of the sponsor’s registered trademarks since the sponsor would not exercise adequate control over the trademark. The issues outlined above might not just affect the company’s image, but could also prevent it from adequately protecting its trademark. A registered trademark ensures nationwide protection; it may also cover multiple countries if applications are filed outside Canada. Above all, trademark registration provides a greater degree of legal certainty. This also greatly facilitates intervention against malicious actors seeking to counterfeit—and profit from—registered trademark and, in many cases, serves to block imports of counterfeit merchandise. From the outset, sports teams that wish to profit commercially from their brand should check at the outset whether it can be registered as a nominal and/or design trademark. If it cannot, they are advised to work closely with their legal teams and trademark agents to find an alternative name or logos that are not affected by the above-mentioned issues.

    Read more
  3. TRADEMARKS IN CANADA: The Federal Court clarifies the concept of “bad faith”

    In the decision Beijing Judian Restaurant Co. Ltd. v. Wei Meng, 2022 FC 743, rendered by the Honourable Angela Furlanetto on May 18, 2022, the Federal Court clarified what constitutes bad faith in trademark law. Prior to the decision, the concept of bad faith in relation to trademarks was interpreted rather cautiously in Canadian jurisprudence. Background Beijing Judian Restaurant Co. Ltd. (the “Applicant”) petitioned the Court to invalidate the registration of Respondent Wei Meng (the “Respondent”) for the trademark depicted below (the “Respondent’s Mark”), on the grounds that the registration was obtained in bad faith, and to strike the trademark from the Canadian Register of Trademarks, in accordance with subsection 57(1) and paragraph 18(1)(e) of the Trademarks Act (the “Act”). In support of its application, the Applicant filed two affidavits of its representatives, which set out the facts below. The Respondent did not cross-examine the Applicant on the affidavits, file any evidence, or appear at the hearing. The following facts are therefore undisputed. The facts Since 2005, the Applicant has been running a chain of restaurants in China and using, in connection with its restaurants, the mark below, as well as each of the components of this mark, alone or in combination (the “JU DIAN Marks”). The JU DIAN Marks are highly visible in China. They are featured in numerous advertisements promoting the Applicant’s restaurants and the JU DIAN Marks. The JU DIAN Marks and the Applicant’s chain of restaurants are therefore well known in that country. Moreover, in 2011 and 2013, respectively, the Applicant began promoting its restaurants in association with the JU DIAN Marks on the WEIBO and WECHAT platforms in an effort to target the Chinese population in and outside China. In 2015, the Applicant considered the possibility of bringing its chain of restaurants to Canada. The Applicant decided to open its first restaurants in Canada in the Vancouver and Toronto regions, as these have a large Chinese population that would likely be familiar with the Applicant’s chain of restaurants. The Applicant opened restaurants in Vancouver and Toronto in 2018, and a restaurant in Richmond, British Columbia, in 2019. The Applicant was however unaware that the Respondent had applied to register the Respondent’s Mark in Canada a few months earlier, on June 27, 2017, based on proposed use in association with restaurant services, among others. It appears that, during the same period, the Respondent had also applied to register in Canada several marks belonging to other Chinese restaurant chains. In April 2019, the Respondent visited the Applicant’s Vancouver restaurant and accused the Applicant of stealing his mark. A series of meetings and discussions between the parties ensued, during which the Respondent demanded that the Applicant pay him the sum of $1,500,000 to use the Respondent’s Mark without acquiring its ownership, and threatened to contact the Canada Revenue Agency if the Applicant did not cease using the mark. The Applicant refused to pay the Respondent any sum whatsoever and did not yield to his threats. In the meantime, the Respondent’s Mark was registered in Canada. In June 2019, the Applicant learned of an advertisement that the Respondent had posted on a British Columbia website. The advertisement was for the sale of the registration of the Respondent’s Mark. The Applicant contacted the Respondent anonymously to obtain more information on the offer. The Respondent offered the Applicant a trademark license at a cost of $100,000 per year, justifying the price by stating that the mark was already well known in China with the Applicant’s restaurants. The Applicant then sent the Respondent a formal notice demanding that he cease using the Applicant’s mark and abandon its registration in Canada. The Respondent refused to comply. The Applicant thus filed an application for invalidation and expungement of the registration. The law Although paragraph 18(1)(e) of the Act provides that a registration may be invalidated if the application for registration was filed in bad faith, the Federal Court noted in its decision that the Act contains no definition of the term “bad faith.” It pointed out that, because paragraph 18(1)(e) of the Act is relatively new, very little Canadian jurisprudence has examined what constitutes bad faith in trademark matters. In its decision, the Federal Court drew on various sources to determine whether the registration of the Respondent’s Mark could be invalidated on the basis of bad faith. First, the Court considered the observations of the Parliament of Canada regarding the adoption of the amendments to the Act, which state that: The amendments aim, notably, to hinder the registration of a trademark for the sole purpose of extracting value from preventing others from using it. The amendments would prevent the abusive use of the trademark regime, such as by applying for registration with the sole intention of seeking remuneration from the legitimate owner of a trademark. Second, the Court analyzed certain Canadian decisions rendered prior to the adoption of paragraph 18(1)(e) of the Act in matters of bad faith. It noted that Canadian jurisprudence had already invalidated trademark registrations on the basis of bad faith where the applicant had filed a series of applications for registration in Canada for well-known trademarks. Lastly, the Court reviewed decisions rendered in Europe and the United Kingdom. It concluded that in these jurisdictions, filing an application for registration of a trademark without intending to use it for a legitimate commercial purpose and with the sole intention of preventing a third party from entering the market or interfering with its business may constitute bad faith. The same is true where an applicant wishes to register a trademark for extortion purposes. The Court then analyzed the relevant date in order to assess bad faith under paragraph 18(1)(e) of the Act. It stated that while the relevant date is the date on which the application was filed, evidence subsequent to that date may be considered relevant if it helps to clarify the reasons why the application was filed. The Court held that the Applicant had the burden of establishing bad faith, which had to be proven on a balance of probabilities with clear and convincing evidence. The Court however specified that where the facts could only be known to the Respondent, circumstantial evidence and inferences from proven facts could be sufficient to establish the Respondent’s objectives at the time of the application’s filing. The facts show that, at the time the application was filed, the Respondent was aware of the Applicant’s restaurants in China and that the JU DIAN Marks had acquired a certain reputation, at the very least, among the Chinese population in British Columbia. The Court also concluded that it was highly unlikely that the Respondent had created a mark identical to that of the Applicant on his own, considering the originality of the mark. It was therefore more likely that the Respondent had wanted to register the same mark, knowing that it was associated with the Applicant’s restaurants in China, in order to benefit from its reputation. The Court nonetheless made the following clarification: filing an application for a trademark, even if it is identical to that of a third party, is insufficient to invalidate its registration, as there may be a legitimate basis to obtain a registered trademark in Canada for the same trademark that is registered and used by a third party elsewhere, where the third party’s trademark has no reputation in Canada.  Thus, it is the intention to “abuse the trademark regime” or the bad faith of the owner that must be established on a balance of probabilities. The Court concluded that the Applicant’s evidence established that the Respondent had registered the trademark without a legitimate commercial purpose: The JU DIAN Marks are known in Canada, at least by the Chinese population in British Columbia. The Respondent acknowledged in his exchanges that the JU DIAN Marks are associated with the Applicant’s chain of restaurants and are well-known trademarks.  The Respondent applied to register the Respondent’s Mark in Canada for the purpose of extorting money by leveraging the trademark’s reputation. The Respondent applied to register trademarks in Canada belonging to Chinese restaurant chains. The Court therefore held that the circumstances of the case constituted bad faith, but noted that in the United Kingdom, an inference of bad faith may be rebuttable where there is registration of a known trademark by an applicant who has no connection with the legitimate owner of the trademark. However, in the United Kingdom, where an applicant has engaged in a pattern of acquiring multiple such registrations, rebutting the inference of bad faith becomes significantly more difficult. In the absence of evidence from the Respondent to rebut the inference of bad faith created by the circumstantial evidence, the Court found that the evidence on file established the Respondent’s intent to use the registration for extortion purposes. The Court invalidated the registration of the Respondent’s Mark and ordered that the registration be expunged from the Register of Trademarks. What this means It appears from this decision that the Court’s analysis is largely factual and that the burden of establishing the intent of the owner of a given trademark at the time an application is filed may be difficult, especially where a foreign applicant’s trademark has no reputation in Canada.

    Read more
  4. Ten things you should know about the amendments to Quebec’s Charter of the French language

    Quebec recently enacted Bill 96, entitled An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which aims to overhaul the Charter of the French language. Here are 10 key changes in this law that will impose significant obligations on businesses: As of June 1, 2025, businesses employing more than 25 people (currently the threshold is 50 people) for at least six months will be required to comply with various “francization”1 obligations. Businesses with between 25 and 99 employees may also be ordered by the Office québécois de la langue française (the OQLF)2 to form a francization committee. In addition, at the request of the OQLF, businesses may have to provide a francization program for review within three months. As of June 1, 2025, only trademarks registered in a language other than French (and for which no French version has been filed or registered) will be accepted as an exception to the general principle that trademarks must be translated into French. Unregistered trademarks that are not in French must be accompanied by their French equivalent. The rule is the same for products as well as their labelling and packaging; any writing must be in French. The French text may be accompanied by a translation or translations, but no text in another language may be given greater prominence than the text in French or be made available on more favourable terms. However, as of June 1, 2025, generic or descriptive terms included in a trademark registered in a language other than French (for which no French version has been registered) must be translated into French. In addition, as of June 1, 2025, on public signs and posters visible from outside the premises, (i) French must be markedly predominant (rather than being sufficiently present) and (ii) the display of trademarks that are not in French (for which no French version has been registered) will be limited to registered trademarks. As of June 1, 2022, businesses that offer goods or services to consumers must respect their right to be informed and served in French. In the event of breaches of this obligation, consumers have the right to file a complaint with the OQLF or to request an injunction unless the business has fewer than five employees. In addition, any legal person or company that provides services to the civil administration3 will be required to provide these services in French, including when the services are intended for the public. As of June 1, 2022, subject to certain criteria provided for in the bill, employers are required to draw up the following written documents in French: individual employment contracts4 and communications addressed to a worker or to an association of workers, including communications following the end of the employment relationship with an employee. In addition, other documents such as job application forms, documents relating to working conditions and training documents must be made available in French.5 As of June 1, 2022, employers who wish to require employees to have a certain level of proficiency in a language other than French in order to obtain a position must demonstrate that this requirement is necessary for the performance of the duties related to the position, that it is impossible to proceed using internal resources and that they have made efforts to limit the number of positions in their company requiring knowledge of a language other than French as much as possible. As of June 1, 2023, parties wishing to enter into a consumer contract in a language other than French, or, subject to various exceptions,6 a contract of adhesion that is not a consumer contract, must have received a French version of the contract before agreeing to it. Otherwise, a party can demand that the contract be cancelled without it being necessary to prove harm. As of June 1, 2023, the civil administration will be prohibited from entering into a contract with or granting a subsidy to a business that employs 25 or more people and that does not comply with the following obligations on the use of the French language: obtaining a certificate of registration, sending the OQLF an analysis of the language situation in the business within the time prescribed, or obtaining an attestation of implementation of a francization program or a francization certificate, depending on the case. As of June 1, 2023, all contracts and agreements entered into by the civil administration, as well as all written documents sent to an agency of the civil administration by a legal person or by a business to obtain a permit, an authorization or a subsidy or other form of financial assistance must be drawn up exclusively in French. As of September 1, 2022, a certified French translation must be attached to motions and other pleadings drawn up in English that emanate from a business or legal person that is a party to a pleading in Quebec. The legal person will bear the translation costs. The application of the provisions imposing this obligation has, however, been suspended for the time being by the Superior Court.7 As of September 1, 2022, registrations in the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights and in the Land Registry Office, in particular registrations of securities, deeds of sale, leases and various other rights, must be made in French. Note that declarations of co-ownership must be filed at the Land Registry Office in French as of June 1, 2022. The lawyers at Lavery know Quebec’s language laws and can help you understand the impact of Bill 96 on your business, as well as inform you of the steps to take to meet these new obligations. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the Lavery team members named in this article for assistance. We invite you to consult the other articles concerning the modifications made to Quebec’s Charter of the French language: Trademarks and Charter of the French language: What can you expect from Bill 96? Amendments to the Charter of the French Language: Impacts on the Insurance Sector “Francization” refers to a process established by the Charter of the French language to ensure the generalized use of French in businesses. The OQLF is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Charter of the French language. The civil administration in this law includes any public body in the broad sense of the term. An employee who signed an individual employment contract before June 1, 2022, will have until June 1, 2023, to ask their employer to provide them with a French translation if the employee so wishes. If the individual employment contract is a fixed-term employment contract that ends before June 1, 2024, the employer is not obliged to have it translated into French at the request of the employee. Employers have until June 1, 2023, to have job application forms, documents related to work conditions and training documents translated into French if these are not already available to employees in French. Among these exceptions are employment contracts, loan contracts and contracts used in “relations with persons outside Quebec.” There seems to be a contradiction in the law with regard to individual employment contracts which are contracts of adhesion and for which the obligation to provide a French translation nevertheless seems to apply. Mitchell c. Procureur général du Québec, 2022 QCCS 2983.

    Read more