My online business mentor, Amy Porterfield, just released a podcast episode this week with US Attorney, Ashley Kirkwood, talking about protecting your online content. I highly recommend that you listen to that episode here.
As a reminder, copyright laws protect your content. Trademark laws protect your brand.
One of the recommendations, which I completely agree with, is to do a trademark search BEFORE you launch a new online course or digital product to make sure you are not infringing on anyone's trademarks.
I have already gotten questions from two business owners who listened to this episode about how to do a Trademark Search for Canada.
To do a trademark search, you will find the Canadian Trademarks Database on the Government of Canada website. The link is here.
If you click on "Additional Search Options" you can narrow your search in "Category" to Trademarks and under "Type" to Work Marks. This will help to give you more relevant search results.
What you are first looking for are search results with similar names. You should search for several variations of your proposed name for best results - plural, with the or a, adding or subtracting descriptors like "Academy" or "Program".
When you get the search results, you are looking for exact or close matches. If you get no results, try a more general version of the search. For example, if I search "Canadian Online Legal Template Library" I get no results but if I search "Canadian Online Legal" I do get some search results for me to review.
You will note, that trademarks have to be registered for certain categories of goods or services. If you search "Lululemon", for example, you will find that this trademark is registered in respect of categories of goods including clothing and yoga mats and related accessories. If you were going to run an online course making lemon meringue pies, you may be able to still use the term "Lululemon". The company Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc. does have quite a number of trademarks registered for individual products including the "Ta Ta Tamer" for sports bras.
The search results will tell you are the CANADIAN trademarks are registered. For US trademarks (or those from other countries), you do need to search that countries database.
You should also do a thorough internet search for your proposed name. This will show you what other businesses may be using similar names. Though they may not have registered their name yet as a Trademark, any use by other businesses may make your trademark application (if you choose to do one), more complicated.