Trademark applicants should be cautious about the services that they claim. If the services claimed are not beneficial to the public or if they are self-serving and only done to sell the applicant’s goods, then applications are open to opposition and trademark registrations are vulnerable to cancellation proceedings. Only claim services in a trademark application, if you are in the business of selling those services.
For example, if you sell clothing online, then claim “online sales of clothing.” Don’t claim “website design” if you are only building or designing websites for yourself.
However, if you are building websites for others, then claim “website development for others” or “website design.”
In a second example, a marketing agency may claim one or more of the following approved services:
A pet food brand or manufacturer, however, should not claim “pet food” for its goods and then claim the services performed by its marketing department for the sale of its own pet food in its trademark application. Claiming marketing research and marketing promotional services relating to the products of the applicant is not allowed in a trademark application.
A trademark application must claim goods and/or services and describe them with terms that are acceptable to the Canadian trademark office. Applicants may claim just goods, just services, or both goods and services.
30. An applicant for the registration of a trade-mark shall file with the Registrar an application containing:
(a) a statement in ordinary commercial terms of the specific goods or services in association with which the mark has been or is proposed to be used;
(b) in the case of a trade-mark that has been used in Canada, the date from which the applicant or his named predecessors in title, if any, have so used the trade-mark in association with each of the general classes of goods or services described in the application;
(c) in the case of a trade-mark that has not been used in Canada but is made known in Canada, the name of a country of the Union in which it has been used by the applicant or his named predecessors in title, if any, and the date from and the manner in which the applicant or named predecessors in title have made it known in Canada in association with each of the general classes of goods or services described in the application;
If applicants don’t comply with these requirements, their applications may be stopped by either an examiner or an opponent. If the trademark applications become registered trademarks, then someone may apply to cancel the trademarks by making an application in the Federal Court of Canada.
Examples of oppositions based on non-compliance with Section 30(a) because services were found non-beneficial to the public or self-serving include Ralston Purina Co. v. Effem Foods Ltd. (1997), 81 C.P.R. (3d) 528 (T.M.O.B., per Groom) and Ralston Purina Co. v. Effem Foods Ltd. (2000), 5 C.P.R. (4th) 398 (T.M.O.B., per Herzig), where, in both, the applicant’s associated wares were “pet food” and its services “advertising, marketing and promotional services relating to the pet food products of the applicant.”