4 Common Trademark Search Mistakes You Should Watch Out For

Picking a trademark can be one of the most stressful parts of starting a business. Performing a Canada trademark search is just one piece of the puzzle, but a crucial one. A trademark search will help you find the information you need to secure a trademark without getting caught up in lawsuits and other fees later on.

Trademark registration is no joke, so it’s worth doing it right. Otherwise, one small mistake could cost you thousands of dollars and countless hours of your time.

When you do preliminary searches for trademark registration in Canada, it’s easy to fall into pitfalls that can cause problems down the line. If you’re careful, you can avoid these mistakes and make your trademark search and registration process much smoother.

1: Picking a Weak Trademark

When picking your trademark, you should always make sure that it’s strong enough to make the cut. Weaker trademarks will always have more hits and will be difficult to defend. A weak trademark is generally:


Descriptive trademarks are trademarks that describe what the service is rather than a creative or interesting brand name. “Jack’s Keyboard Service” is a prime example of a descriptive trademark. It tells you that Jack is selling keyboards, but it is hardly memorable outside of that.


Arbitrary trademarks are the complete opposite of descriptive trademarks. Instead of describing the service, they use words or descriptions completely unrelated to the good or service in question.

A good example of an arbitrary trademark is if Jack took his keyboard business and registered it under something like “Figures Heaven” or “Curry Junction.” Not only is his business completely unaffiliated with action figures or food, but this would be considered false advertising.


Fanciful trademarks are different from descriptive or arbitrary trademarks in that they aren’t describing anything at all. Instead, fanciful trademarks are made up of gibberish words that have no meaning in any known language.

While fanciful words are unique, and may not have any similar words or duplicates, they also make it difficult for potential clients to remember them. Worse, customers may not even know what your product is or does.

Making sure you have a strong trademark to begin with will not only prevent your business from falling into long legal battles and trademark overlap. It will also give you a brand that has longevity, memorability, and if it is creative enough, can bring in clients on the strength of the name alone.

2: Not Being Thorough Enough

Conducting a Canadian trademark search is a long and laborious process. Many people want to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible, but taking shortcuts can hamper your success later on.

When doing a trademark search, consider these tips to make the process as thorough as possible:

Search Both Canadian and American Trademark Databases

If you want to operate your business throughout North America (not just in Canada), keep in mind that Canada’s trademark registration process does not apply to the US. US trademark registration has different protocols than Canada trademark registration, so you need to be familiar with trademark laws in both countries if you want to register your trademark in the US and Canada. Similarly, if you do only a US trademark search, the trademark may not be usable in Canada.

Use Paid Databases, Not Only Free Ones

When you have limited funds and are in a time crunch, it can be tempting to save money and only use free services and databases for your trademark search. But when you do this, you are not only limiting the scope of your search but also using resources that are less robust.

Using all the databases at your disposal makes your search much more thorough, even if it costs more in the short run.

Use All Available Search Types

Trademark searching is a process full of small details, which means it is extremely easy to miss something or make a mistake. Be sure to check that your trademark does not overlap with another, which can not only cause potential legal troubles but can confuse customers who are looking for a particular service.

One way to avoid this is to be specific in how you search for your trademarks. Make sure you search for not only federal trademark registrations, but also search for federal trademark applications, common usages, and common law usages.

Being thorough may seem like splitting hairs, but with trademarks, everything is in the details. Keeping track of these details helps protect yourself from potential problems or litigation later.

3: Not Taking Initiative

Business owners often think about searching but can hesitate when they have the brand name they want.

Business is all about timing. Make sure you take advantage of all of your available opportunities to keep both your trademark and business secure.

Register Your Trademarks Quickly

Once you are finished with your trademark searching and have the brand name you want, you need to get it registered right away. Getting your trademark registered with the Canadian and/or US trademark registry will give you essential legal protections to holding your copyright.

Waffling on a choice can be the difference between having the perfect brand name and having someone snatch it out from under your nose.

Defend Your Copyright Diligently

In some circles, defending copyright can be seen as a faux pas. Unfortunately, this is the nature of business.

Customers get confused by similar-sounding business names, and other businesses will sometimes use them to steal customers. Defending your copyright from potential bad actors ensures a secure brand and customers that stick around for the long haul.

Hiring a lawyer to assist with situations like these can make the process easier, too.

4: Doing it Yourself

As a new business owner, it’s hard to keep all of your expenses within budget. Lawyers may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially when you are still setting up the foundation for your business.

However, even if you understand the basics of trademark law, and can even conduct the search and registration process by yourself, you may overlook a lot of smaller details if you’re not an attorney. In law, everything is in the details, and keeping up with those details will save you lots of headaches.

That’s why hiring a lawyer can save you money in the long run. Not only will they be able to help you through the more complicated parts of a Trademark Search Canada, but they can arm you with the information to keep your trademark strong and your business out of any legal hot water.

Lawyers will also help you go through the trademark registration process as quickly as possible. If you sit on a potential trademark and wait to go through the process of both US trademark registration and Canada trademark registration, someone else may register the trademark before you have a chance to.

When you hire a trademark lawyer in Canada, they’ll help you with every aspect of the Canada trademark search and registration processes. They can also assist with US trademark registration. When you have your trademark registered, you are one step closer to starting your first day of business with a strong brand identity.

Hank Pedro
the authorHank Pedro