I’ve been thinking about my intellectual property as my business grows. What are key areas of intellectual property that are particularly relevant to the hospitality industry and locations looking to expand?
Many businesses in the hospitality industry in Alberta generate a sizable portion of the revenue through branding and name recognition, or intellectual property. However, many businesses are so focused on the short-term that they put off conversations about intellectual property protection. Oftentimes it is, I’ll get the protection once we’re bigger, once we’re busy again, once we’ve opened up another location.
This kind of “when we’re bigger” thinking can be painful if when you reach your imagined size, you discover that you cannot protect your most important asset because someone else got there first.
Trademarks protect names and logos, key components of branding and name recognition. Trademark intellectual property law, broadly speaking, is based on two tenets: first-come-first-served and use. While the continued use of an aspect of branding, like a name, logo or colour scheme can protect a restaurant from others registering or using the branding, that isn’t always enough. The registration of a trademark, which includes the realm of branding, provides stronger, recorded protection to the restauranteur and additional peace of mind.
A trademark can be registered with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office by submitting the relevant documentation and paying a fee. Once submitted, the public has 2 months to oppose your use of the trademark, often because they are already using a similar mark. After this opposition period, your trademark is registered and will be so for 10 years. At the end of this period, you can renew for subsequent 10 year periods, so long as you use the trademark. Trademark registrations can be cancelled if the owner does not “use” the trademark in the Canadian marketplace.
If you have any questions about filing for registered trademark protections for your restaurant, don’t hesitate to call us at Du Plooy Law.