Studies have shown that most customers first look up a business online before deciding to buy from them. This makes having an online presence among the most vital things for a business.
With over a billion websites on the internet, the question of standing out from the crowd is always at the heart of every business owner, and you might wonder if it is possible to trademark the appearance of your website.
This guide highlights all you need to know about websites and trademarks.
Technically, a webpage is not registrable as a trademark, as it would not fit the definition of a trademark. The simplest definition of a trademark is a visual or audio identifier of a brand, which includes things like logos, names, and slogans.
These identifiers help the consumers of a brand pick it out from among its competitors, and it is a type of intellectual property (IP) that is registrable under Canadian intellectual property law.
Often, websites will have too much information that makes distinguishing one from another difficult from a visual perspective. Also, a website’s content keeps changing from time to time, making an attempt to register a website as a trademark significantly challenging.
While it may be challenging to protect your website’s entire look, you can protect some aspects of it, and in so doing, you protect its likeness. For example, your website’s domain name is registerable as a trademark. This means no other person in Canada or in the countries where you register your domain name can use it to market their products.
Also, you can trademark your symbols and consequently prevent any other website from using them for marketing their products or branding their websites. You could be asking, “What is a trademark symbol?” You can get all that information in this post on heerlaw.com, which offers everything you need to know about trademarks, including the registration process and how to handle infringement on your trademark rights.
Trade dress is a type of trademark protection that covers a product’s or service’s non-functional image and appearance. This protection often applies to physical products and covers aspects of a product such as color, shape, size, graphics, or a combination of them.
While applicable to protecting the look of a website, this type of trademark is only for websites that are distinctively unique in their look, which may not be an achievable feat for most small businesses.
Websites that can be said to have achieved this level of distinctiveness include Google, Yahoo, and eBay home pages, among others. But if you feel your website meets the same level of distinctiveness, you can register it.
Copyright protections are also applicable to some features of your websites. One of these features is the content of the web pages, including graphics, images, music, and text. You do not always have to apply for copyright protection copyright protections apply by default by default for content creation. However, proving the ownership of such rights can be challenging without proper registration.
Like trademark protections, copyright protections for websites can be somewhat challenging, considering the website’s content can change from time to time, so you may need to update your registration every time you update your content.
Copyright protections allow you an exclusive right to the content on your website and the right to file infringement claims on a website that duplicates your content.
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office is the government body mandated to conduct IP registration in Canada.
After establishing that your trademarks are registrable by conducting a trademark search, the next step would be filling out an application to register them by visiting their offices in person or through their website.
If successful, your trademark protections will run for ten years and be limited to Canada. If you want protection in other countries, you have to register your IPs in those countries following the applicable laws in those countries.