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Guide to Transitional Provisions of Bill C-31

From: Canadian Intellectual Property Office

Amendment Date: September 15, 2020

Part 1: Filing date not granted

Applications that have been received by the Office but have not met the filing requirements set out in section 25 of the former Trade-marks Regulations ("the former Regulations") will be re-assessed under the requirements set out in section 33 of the amended Trademarks Act ("the amended Act").

If an application was not granted a filing date prior to the coming into force (CIF) date but did meet the requirements under subsection 33(1) of the amended Act, its filing date will be the CIF date. Examples of situations in which the Office would accept a previously unacceptable application include:

If, despite the above-mentioned re-assessment, all of the requirements under subsection 33(1) of the amended Act were not provided by the CIF date, the Registrar will issue a notice to the applicant setting out the outstanding requirements. Applicants will have two (2) months from the date of the notice to correct the deficiencies in the application. If the applicant does not submit the outstanding items within those two months, the application will be deemed never to have been filed.

Given that the application fee structure will change on the CIF date, the situation could arise that the only outstanding requirement is the prescribed fee under paragraph 33(1)(f) of the amended Act. In such a situation, the Registrar will send a notice to the applicant outlining this deficiency, unless the original application contained a general authorization to charge a deficiency.

Note: The prescribed application fee is adjusted every year on the first of January. The amount for the first class of goods or services depends on the date on which the payment is received by the Registrar. Similarly, the amount for any additional Nice classes also depends on the date on which the payment is received, even if the prescribed fee for the first class of goods or services to which the application relates was paid prior to the annual adjustment. To find out the exact amount of a fee, please consult the list of fees for trademarks.

Part 2: Filing date granted

All applications that have been granted a filing date but have not been advertised in the Trademarks Journal prior to the CIF date will be subject to most of the provisions of the amended Act.  This includes applications that have:

All of these applications will be re-assessed to ensure they meet the registrability requirements of the amended Act.

Bases for registration (claims)

All previous bases for registration (prior use or making known in Canada, foreign registration and use, proposed use) of a trademark are removed in the amended Act.  For applications not advertised at the CIF date, the Office will not require that the claims be removed; however, these claims will not appear in the particulars of the advertisement. As well, applications that include a foreign application or registration as a claim basis will no longer require a certified copy of the corresponding foreign registration.

Not inherently distinctive

In view of paragraphs 32(1)(b) and 37(1)(b) of the amended Act, the Registrar will be able to refuse a trademark if it is not inherently distinctive.  Therefore, applications that have not been advertised at the CIF date will require reassessment by an examiner for inherent distinctiveness and, if applicable, the applicant will be given the opportunity to furnish the Registrar with evidence that the trademark was distinctive at the time of filing the application.  Further information regarding the determination of inherent distinctiveness is provided in section 4.9 of the Trademarks Examination Manual.

Section 14

As the relevant section of the former Trade-marks Act ("the former Act") has been removed, applicants may not claim the benefit of section 14 to overcome an objection under paragraphs 12(1)(a) or (b) after the amended Act comes into force. If an application claiming the benefit of section 14 has not been advertised at the CIF date, the applicant will be required to file a revised application removing the claim.

Certification marks

Under the former Act, applications for certification marks must be based on use in Canada before the filing date of the application. However, prior use is no longer a requirement for the filing of certification marks under the amended Act. Applications for certification marks that were filed on the basis of proposed use prior to the CIF date can proceed to advertisement if all other objections are overcome or requirements are met.

Utilitarian function

Subsection 12(2) of the amended Act provides the Registrar the authority to object to the registration of a trademark that contains features that are dictated primarily by a utilitarian function. Applications that have not been advertised prior to the CIF date will require re-assessment by the examiner to assess whether a trademark is primarily functional.

Distinguishing guise

As the amended Act no longer includes a definition of "distinguishing guise", applications for distinguishing guises that have not been advertised at the CIF date will require amendment. In particular, applicants will be required to amend their application for a distinguishing guise to specify that the trademark is either (a) a three-dimensional shape, or (b) a mode of packaging goods.

Nice classification

Under the amended Act, the goods and services in an application are to be grouped according to the classes of the Nice Classification. Therefore, applications that have not been advertised at the CIF date will need to be amended to properly group and class all of the associated goods or services.

Associated marks

The concept of "associated marks," as set out in section 15 of the former Act, will no longer exist in the amended Act. Therefore, at the CIF date, information pertaining to associated trademarks will be removed from all applications and registrations.

Standard character trademarks

Under the transitional provisions of the new Trademarks Regulations ("the new Regulations"), an application filed before, but not yet advertised at, the CIF date may be amended at any time prior to registration to add a statement that the applicant wishes the trademark to be registered in standard characters, but only if the trademark remains substantially the same.

Non-traditional trademarks

An application filed before, but not yet advertised at, the CIF date may be amended at any time prior to registration, but only if the trademark remains substantially the same, to add a statement referred to in paragraphs 31(e) to (g) of the new Regulations.

Fees

The filing fee will be the fee under the previous Tariff of Fees and the fee per additional Nice Class will not apply.

For applications having a filing date prior to the CIF date and that are not advertised at the CIF date, the registration fee set out in the former Regulations must be paid.

Note: The prescribed registration fee is adjusted every year on the first of January. The amount depends on the date on which the payment is received by the Registrar, even if the application was filed or advertised prior to the annual adjustment. To find out the exact amount of a fee, please consult the list of fees for trademarks.

Part 3: Advertised and Allowed

Trademarks that have been advertised or allowed prior to the CIF date will be subject to most of the provisions of the former Act.

As the different bases of filing have been removed from the amended Act, applications will no longer require a declaration of use prior to registration.

For applications having a filing date prior to the CIF date and that are advertised but not yet registered at the CIF date, the registration fee set out in the former Regulations must be paid.

Note: The prescribed registration fee is adjusted every year on the first of January. The amount depends on the date on which the payment is received by the Registrar, even if the application was filed or advertised prior to the annual adjustment. To find out the exact amount of a fee, please consult the list of fees for trademarks.

Where a trademark has been advertised but has not yet proceeded to allowance at the CIF date, a notice to the applicant will be given by way of a registration fee notice explaining that in order for the application to proceed to registration, the prescribed fee must be paid on or before 6 months from the date of the notice. As section 39 of the former Act will have been removed, it will not be possible to issue a further "notice of allowance".  

If the registration fee is paid, it is deemed to have been paid for all original and divisional applications from which it stems, and all divisional applications stemming from that application, if and as applicable.

For applications that are pending at the CIF, the term of registration will depend on the date on which the Registrar processes the fee for registration. For example, a trademark will be granted an initial term of 15 years if the payment of the registration fee is processed by the Registrar prior to the CIF date. Alternatively, a trademark will be granted a term of 10 years if the payment of the registration fee is processed by the Registrar on or after the CIF date.

The grouping of the goods or services according to the classes of the Nice Classification will not be required for an application that was filed and advertised prior to the CIF date since it is only required for the purposes of advertisement, renewal or following a notice issued under section 44.1 of the amended Act.

Important: In the case of a divisional application filed after the two-month period immediately following advertisement in respect of a word mark or a distinguishing guise, the divisional application must, at the time of its filing, include a statement under paragraph 31(b) of the amended Act to the effect that the applicant wishes the trademark to be registered in standard characters, or under paragraph 31(e) of the new Regulations that the trademark consists in whole or in part of a three-dimensional shape or a mode of packaging goods, as applicable. These statements are required at the time of filing the divisional application in view of paragraph 35(2)(e) of the new Regulations since it will only be permissible to add or delete these statements if the application has not been advertised and the trademark remains substantially the same.

Moreover, when a divisional application which stems from an original application in respect of a word mark or distinguishing guise proceeds to registration, the applicant can request that the registrations be merged, in which case the Office can change the "type" of the resultant merged registration to a standard character, a three-dimensional shape or a mode of packaging goods, as applicable and if requested by the registered owner.

Part 4: Registered

Under subsection 46(1) of the former Act, registered trademarks are subject to renewal every 15 years. During the transition to the amended Act, the fee, renewal term, and requirement to group and class goods or services according to the Nice classification will be dependent on several factors. For example:

If renewal is requested after the CIF date of the new legislation for a registration that expired before the CIF date:

If renewal is requested and processed before the CIF date and the registration expires after the CIF date:

If renewal is requested after the CIF date for a registration that expired after the CIF date:

In all cases where the new renewal fees apply, the prescribed fee will be the basic renewal fee for the first class. If the goods or services are not correctly grouped and classed by the deadline to renew, owners will receive additional time to group and class the goods or services and pay the remaining fees. If the remaining fees are not paid, the Registrar will expunge the registration.

Note: The prescribed renewal fee, including fees for additional Nice classes, is adjusted every year on the first of January. The amount depends on the date on which the payment is received by the Registrar, even if the registration was renewed prior to the annual adjustment. To find out the exact amount of a fee, please consult the list of fees for trademarks.

Applications to Extend the Goods or Services of a Trademark Registration

Subsection 41(2) of the amended Act provides that an application to extend the statement of goods or services in respect of which a trademark is registered has the effect of an application for registration of the trademark in respect of the goods or services specified in the application for amendment. In other words, an application to extend the statement of goods or services of a trademark registration will be examined as a new application.

As a result of amendments to the Act and its new Regulations, certain trademark types are no longer available for registration. For example, distinguishing guises are no longer found under the definition of trademark.

Applications filed under subsection 41(2) of the amended Act in respect of trademarks registered as distinguishing guises or word marks must meet the content requirements as set out in the amended Act and new Regulations. However, if and when the application to extend the goods or services matures to registration, the applicant can request that the previous registration be amended to refer to a type of sign as found in the amended Act. If a request is not received by the Registrar, the registration will remain as a distinguishing guise or word mark with the additional goods or services.

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