How to get copyright and trademark protection for your small business

Last week, we talked about how Canadian entrepreneurs can obtain a patent. This week, we’ll help you get copyright and trademark protection (you can learn about what exactly copyright and trademarks are here).

How to get a copyright in Canada

Informal copyright exists as soon as a song is sung or something is written down — in other words, as soon as it’s created. To mark the creation of a song, for example, people often will send themselves a copy of the song in the mail, keeping the envelope unopened. The date stamp on the postmark is proof of the date the letter was sent, and therefore proof of copyright. Formal registration is performed through constructive notice, which lets you claim statutory damages up to $20,000 for any copyright infringement.

The application process involves sending a completed form to CIPO’s Copyright Office, with a fee of $50 to $65. You might need to send copies of your work to the National Library of Canada. This process usually takes about four weeks. To show that you have copyright protection, you may use the copyright symbol: ©. You’ll be protected against the copying, reproduction, publishing and performing of your creative work. Once you get it, your registered copyright protects you in most other countries of the world.

How to get a trademark in Canada

We have some good news — the process for registering a trademark is way more simple than the process of getting a patent. You may want to hire an agent to help you with the process. To register your trademark, do your research to make sure nothing similar is already in use. You can do this on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) website.

If it’s all clear, your next step is to file an application to be published in CIPO’s Trade-marks Journal to see if anyone opposes it. The process usually takes about a year to get registered and costs around $450 to $500. Once registered, your trademark will be protected in Canada. You can show your trademark registration through the use of the following symbols: TM, ®.

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