While the United States and Canada are major trading partners, their trademark registration systems differ significantly. Trademark rights are national in scope—you must register your trademark in each country where you do business. The following chart shows some of the main differences, and a few similarities, between the U.S. and Canadian trademark systems.
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|Uses the Nice Classification System to divide all goods and services into 45 classes||Does not use a class system; all goods and all services are simply listed in the trademark application|
|Official fees are based on the number of classes in a trademark application||The same official fee is paid no matter how many goods or services are listed in the application|
|Trademarks may be jointly owned||Trademarks may not be jointly owned (except when the mark is owned by a single legal entity that comprises multiple parties, such as a legally valid partnership)|
|Trademark owner information may refer to a post office box||Trademark owner information may not refer to a post office box but must have a street address|
|Participates in the Madrid Protocol, a treaty system that facilitates registration of trademarks in multiple countries||Does not participate in the Madrid Protocol treaty|
|The term of protection is 10 years (renewable)||The term of protection is 15 years (renewable)|
|Examination begins about 3 months after filing||Examination begins about 7 months after filing|
|Calls products “goods”||Calls products “wares”|
|Uses the spelling “trademark”||Uses the spelling “trade-mark”|
But there are some similarities between the U.S. and Canadian trademark systems:
- Both permit electronic filing of trademark applications.
- Both provide online searching of existing trademarks.
- Both require actual use of a trademark in the respective country in order to obtain the most benefit from a trademark registration, although you can, in some circumstances, register a mark before use has begun.
- Both examine a trademark application for possible conflicts with existing trademarks and will refuse registration if they see a conflict (this is not done in the European Union, where other trademark owners must watch for new applications that may conflict with their registration).