Over the last while, Grammy award winner Taylor Swift has been proving that she is not only a musician, but also a businesswoman. Most recently, she has made the news by applying for a number of trademarks with respect to various terms and song lyrics.

For example, Taylor Swift has applied to trademark the phrase “PARTY LIKE ITS 1989” with respect to use in association with various goods and services such as “Musical instruments; Accessories for musical instruments; Guitars; Guitar accessories; Guitar picks; Guitar straps; Drumsticks”, and “Paper products; Printed products; Printed publications; Stationery; Stickers; Decals; Decalcomanias; Removable tattoo transfers; Temporary tattoo transfers; Stencils; Writing instruments; Art supplies”.

By filing these trademark applications, Taylor Swift not only has people talking about her, she has them asking questions about trademarks, such as “what is a trademark?” and “should I register a trademark?”

A trademark may be registered with respect to words, designs, sounds or a combination of words, designs and/or sounds being used or that are proposed to be used in association with goods and/or services. The Trade-marks Act(1) defines a trademark as

“(a) a mark that is used by a person for the purpose of distinguishing or so as to distinguish goods or services manufactured, sold, leased, hired or performed by him from those manufactured, sold, leased, hired or performed by others,

(b) a certification mark,

(c) a distinguishing guise, or

(d) a proposed trade-mark;

By registering a trademark in Canada, the owner of the registered trademark is granted exclusive use of the trademark across Canada for 15 years. The registration serves as proof of ownership of the trademark.

As the Canadian Intellectual Property Office(2) points out,

“Success in the business world depends largely on the message you convey and the image you project. If people cannot pick you out easily from the crowd, you are likely to be overlooked in favour of an individual or firm with a stronger presence.

A trademark is what identifies your goods or services in the public mind and shapes how your products or services are perceived in the marketplace.”

Therefore, taking into consideration the importance of branding and reputation, the question of whether or not a trademark is appropriate is an important one.

The Trade-marks Act sets the rules regarding whether a trademark can be registered. In my next blog, I will discuss a few bars to registration. To read more about Taylor Swift’s trademark applications, visit CTV’s article or the Justia Trademark website.

(1) http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/t-13/FullText.html

(2) http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf

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