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What makes a good Trademark?

The only way to make a good trademark is to know when you need to trademark. There are numerous different business situations that call for the protection that registering a trademark provides, however, some situations are better suited than others. 
You may find yourself in need of a trademark if you are known as another business name, if you are promoting a strong brand name, if you are thinking about franchising or licensing, if you are an importer or an exporter, or if you are an association, an established business, an entertainer, a service company or a publisher.

These all represent the perfect situation to trademark a portion of a corporate name, trade name, or brand name for your protection against competitors and the marketplace. 

Known As

This is when your business is known to your customers by a shortened version of your corporate name, your distinctive element in your corporate name, or another name altogether. 

This situation is very popular in the business world, and the main reason why many businesses extensiveley research their distinctive element of their corporate name. A great 'known as' example would be International Business Machines Inc. who are 'known as' IBM. 

Brand Names

Everyone knows the importance of brand names to a product or service, and the company selling it. All the marketing texts, and business guru's are placing significant importance on "branding" instead of advertising. 

We all go to the store to purchase "Kleenex", but who goes to the store to look for Kimberly-Clarke facial tissue? 


Every business that offers a franchise is a prime candidate for trade mark registration. The owner of a mark has the right to register, and cancel, others as Registered Users of his mark. That gives you, as the franchisor, great control over anyone who is using your trademarked name.

A dispute between a Franchisee and Franchisor may drag through the courts for months, even years, whereas, the owner of the mark needs only give thirty days written notice of his intent to cancel the Licensed User agreements. If the User continues to use the marks after the right has been cancelled the owner can secure a court order to remove all items, including stationery, signs, inventory, invoices, etc., that bear the mark. The owner of the mark has a powerful tool in dealing with franchisees.


The principals that apply to Franchisors apply to Licensors. As a Licensor, you need to maintain product or service control on all your licensees in order to maintain your name's goodwill. With a trademark you can easily control to use of your name by cancelling license agreements with those who do not maintain your standards of product/service control.


Companies that take the time to source and secure the Canadian marketing rights to a product that has never been sold or made known in Canada, must spend money to promote the brand name as used abroad and generate goodwill in Canada for this new product. That is a lot of time and money spent, and as an importer, you should protect your investment in the goodwill of the product. 

You should also protect yourself against an exporter that may decide to sell their products direct.


Well over 140 foreign countries allow marks that are registered in Canada to be registered abroad. Once your marks are registered you will have protection against foreign exporters who wish to penetrate your markets by producing a competitive product in a foreign country. 

Customs officials can deny the admission of any product into a country that may infringe on the rights of a trade mark owner.

You also protect yourself against the importer who decides to have your product made by someone else once the importer registers your name in that foreign country.


Many business organizations, unions, and Professional Associations have established a set of standards, which their members are obligated to maintain. Such associations pride themselves on their standards and encourage members of the public to deal with association members. 

The names of the associations may not be registerable as trade marks but the logos certainly are.

These logos are registerable as Certification marks as they denote a standard of excellence that the member users of the association must meet in order to maintain their membership. The public, upon viewing the logo, will know that the service provider has meet the defined standard and thus he can be trusted.

Established Business

Businesses that have established goodwill in a community, due to length of time in business, multiple locations within a community or businesses that are operating or planning to locate in another community; should consider trade mark registration.

When businesses start to experience success and decide to expand, they become a prime candidate for the thief who wants to steal their marketing ideas and promote a similar business in another community.

Service Companies

This area is highly overlooked and it is the one that needs the most protection. Companies that offer only services such as restaurants, construction companies, home builders, machine shops, trucking companies, consultants, etc., are often the most vulnerable as they do not have a product to protect but instead a reputation that must be protected. This group of companies is represented by more than half of the businesses listed in any yellow pages, yet collectively they have less than 3% of all marks registered.


The stage names used by entertainers, their signatures, and their caricatures are all prime candidates for trade mark protection. Once the public starts to recognize an entertainer by the stage name they will purchase the entertainer's marketed products.

This is just a different situation where, you yourself are the product or brand name that needs to be protected from potential infringement. Plus, with the recent stories involving domain name registrations, and the entertainment business; who wouldn't want to protect their name?


Authors or publishers of printed articles, magazines, or software, with a changing customer base, should trade mark the name or title of their written works.

If J.K. Rowling didn't trademark her infamous "Harry Potter" brand, could you imagine the trouble that could ensue from that?

Any and all of these situations may apply to you and your business at one point in time. And certainly, you read through this list and see the comparisons, now all you have to do is decide to protect your business, your brand, and most of all... your goodwill.