You've been investing in your business for decades. Many years ago, you registered a trademark for your business and now it's time to renew it. However, that trademark registration protected your business now seems outdated and is nearly unrecognizable to your customers. What do you do if your brand has evolved with the times?
Perhaps your music business was started when cassette tapes were the newest thing and records were still in demand - times change. A business that once did all its advertising in the newspaper is now online driving digital demand. Few customers are buying VHS or video game cartridges anymore. Your business's sales, and possibly its offices, have moved online into the e-commerce space. Newsletters are provided on websites or by email instead of printed on paper for publication. Computer software is downloaded instead of saved on a floppy disk. In the past, professional services were provided by phone in businesses that are now conducted in online portals.
The days of buying cassette tapes, VHS, and phonographs are behind us, although those goods still remain in many trademark registrations. A trademark registration
protects specific goods and services by providing a particular classification and identification. Whether you sell shoes, real estate seminars, or party supplies, trademark registrations identify those specific items for federal protection. This gives trademark owners the right to enforce their brands against counterfeiters and copycats that might damage a brand's reputation.
So, what do you do when those identifications have changed in the long run? Usually, the CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office requires registration owners to completely delete products and services that are no longer in use. Broadening an existing registration by amendment is typically not allowed; new goods and services require a new trademark application.
How does a business go about changing a trademark registration to reflect modernization?
First of all, the technology must have changed in how it is delivered to customers and still claim the same underlying content. For example, music was once sold on cylinders for phonographs. The years passed and people played music on records, cassette tapes, CDs, and music is now sold in digital formats.
Secondly, the technical requirements for amending trademark registrations are somewhat narrow. The formerly claimed products must no longer be sold under the trademark by the business owner. A petition is also required for approval along with the required fees.
Many longtime trademark holders assess changes to their brand protection strategy when trademark registrations come up for renewal. For now, trademark registrants can file an amendment petition at any time if the need arises.
A strong trademark strategy allows businesses to satisfy customer needs and compete in modern commerce market. Brand protection allows businesses to thrive in a rapidly changing business landscape. An intellectual property lawyer
can help you navigate these changes and protect your brand's valuable trademarks.