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What does it Cost to Trademark in Canada?

 

What’s a realistic budget for registering a trademark in Canada? As in most things legal, the fully correct answer is the one hardest for a client to hear: it depends. Each client’s needs are different, and one can never know what will happen when any particular trademark application is filed.

That said, from experience, we can lay down guidelines that will apply in most cases. The way we lay it out here may be different from the way other trademark agents lay out their pricing information. If you’re shopping around for price quotes, trying to find the “best deal”, be sure to understand any such differences, so that you compare apples to apples.

In addition, as with any worthwhile service, trademarks cost what they cost. Although it’s easy to think that trademark registration means you’re doing business, in fact it’s the other way round: unless you have, or within a fairly short period of time, plan to have, a real business in operation, you’re better off putting your time and money into getting your business launched — which means finding paying customers for real products or real services.

It’s not that a registered trademark is necessarily an afterthought to the business — don’t get me wrong — especially in the Canadian trademark system, it is important to file earlier rather than later (all kinds of tactical advantages arise if you’re first to file). It’s more that, for start-up businesses, with limited resources of time and money, it’s better to worry first about actually finding your customers.

With those preliminaries out of the way, here are some guidelines that will help you set a realistic budget for your trademark registration:

Phase 1 – Search and application: In this phase, the trademark search(es) is done, and if the search results indicate it’s a go, the trademark application is prepared and filed. Some firms will charge separately for the search and then preparing and filing the application.

  1. Through our office, at current rates (subject to change without notice) a total budget of just under $1,000 will cover most situations. This breaks down into a fee portion (including taxes) of $699; a basic word search of about $25; and the CIPO online filing fees of $250.
  2. If a logo search or more extensive word searching is to be done, you should budget an extra $200 to $400.
  3. If your application must be submitted on paper, then the CIPO filing fee is $300. These days, it’s rare to submit a paper trademark filing.

Phase 2 – Examination of the trademark: This phase takes place mostly behind the scenes at CIPO. The trademark examiner assigned to the file does their job. They search the application to make sure it doesn’t conflict with any previously registered trademarks or previously filed trademark applications. They also check the application to make sure it complies with the other requirements of the Trade-marks Act and its regulations.

  1. The cost here, (again, through our office, and always subject to change without notice), is variable, ranging from nil to possibly several hundred dollars or more. The key factor is the time needed to respond to communications with the trademark examiner. Some trademark agents charge a minimum fee for each communication received from the trademark examiner; others include some set number of letters, if any, between them and CIPO.
  2. Sometimes the application sails through Phase 2 without any questions being raised by the examiner. Over the years, we’ve been pleased to observe that this happens more frequently.
  3. But the examiners are very picky, so on some number of applications they do raise questions. If the questions are minor, which happens most of the time if the mark has been well chosen and good thought has gone into describing the goods and services listed in the application, then not much time is needed to respond, and the cost in Phase 2 will usually be nil.
  4. If the questions they raise are major, though, then the cost in Phase 2 will usually fall at the higher end of the range. This is because major questions usually involve having to convince the examiner that your application is not confusingly similar with another’s trademark. And we’ll be after you for quite a bit of detail as to the history and use of your mark as it compares to the competitor’s mark.
  5. The advice here, then, is to choose wisely. If your trademark agent tells you that he or she thinks the mark will run into trouble, then take that advice and find a different mark.

Phase 3 – Registration of the mark: If the trademark application succeeds through to this Phase — don’t ignore the “if” — not all marks do get past Phase 2 — with our office you’ll need a budget of about $460 (again, subject to change without notice). This amount includes the fee portion and applicable taxes for this Phase, and the CIPO registration fee of $200.

The good thing about Phase 3 is that it happens at the end of the process, which can be as short as 13 months but often 18 months or longer from the date of filing the trademark application. So you’ll have plenty of time to save for it or to have launched your business (and presumably be obtaining some revenue from it).

Summary: All of which is long way round to say that for one Canadian trade-mark application, from start to finish, a realistic budget works out to around $1,450 to perhaps as much as $2,000. If you’ve chosen your mark well, so that it doesn’t present a risk of conflict with someone else’s mark, a safe budget is that bottom of that range.

Because a Canadian trademark, once registered, has a minimum life of 15 years, one way to look at it is that the cost, at the low end, is less than $100 a year. That’s a lot less than a daily coffee.

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