Knowledge & News

Making the best of a bad situation – Canadian trademark trends in a time of change

2 June 2020

Businesses in Canada and most of the rest of the world face uncertainty as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced consumers inside and businesses to change their models or close their doors, either temporarily or for good.

However, a review of the Canadian Trademark Office’s official online database suggests that the novel situation in which we find ourselves has also sparked the entrepreneurial spirit in some, as there has been an increase in filings, many from first-time filers, which seem to be directly related to our new consumer needs and/or referencing the pandemic.

A few trends seem to be present, with the Canadian Register containing trademark applications covering:

  1. novel products or services which more than likely would not have been conceived of otherwise, such as:

    THE SOCIAL DISTANCER – covering, among other things, mobile transmitting and receiving units for remote monitoring of the location of an individual or group of individuals

    COVID Safety Ambassadors – covering the services of providing trained and certified ambassadors to ensure the safety of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring COVID safety guidelines are adhered to. COVID Safety Ambassadors, will act as customer service agents to provide crowd control in commercial and public spaces

  2. existing consumer products which have become increasingly desirable because of the pandemic, such as:

    MOISTLY MASKS – covering facial masks

    CORONA-ARMOR – covering, among other things, disposable and non-disposable barrier products and protective coverings for medical use, namely, face masks, aprons, bouffant caps, shoe covers, visors, face surgical gowns, gloves, jackets and lab coats, and eye shields; masks for use by medical personnel; sanitary masks for medical purposes; gloves for medical purposes; face shields for medical purposes; eye shields for medical purposes; personal protective equipment; protective storage covers and containers for personal protective equipment

  3. products unrelated to the needs of the pandemic, but referencing the pandemic, such as:

    QUARANTINE AND CHILL – covering clothing

    CO-VID-IOT – covering clothing

  4. traditional consumer products with the notable inclusion of pandemic-related items, such as:

    STAY HOME TORONTO – covering typical clothing items but also face masks.

    COVID COUTURE - covering typical clothing, furniture and home décor items but also touchless switches, eye and face shields, touchless appliances, divider screens and protective screens in office furniture, non-medical face masks, eye wear, fashion face masks, and novelty face masks

It will be interesting to see how many applications eventually mature to registration since some could be rejected by the Trademarks Office under the prohibition that prevents registration of marks which are “not inherently distinctive”, introduced in the new legislation which came into force in Canada in June 2019.

Another consideration is that it currently can take approximately two years to achieve registration of a trademark in Canada, barring complications. Will a registration for a trademark referencing a hopefully once in a lifetime event still be of value in a couple of years?

Despite these questions, the filing trends that have already appeared in these last few months since the crisis developed confirm that protecting one’s brand remains paramount in the minds of entrepreneurs and businesses alike.

More content related to Covid-19>

Authors

Shannon Young

Shannon Young Associate Ottawa (Canada) Canadian Trademark Agent

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