The Trademarks Act is federal legislation which establishes a registration system, administered by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).
Trademark rights can exist in a mark irrespective of whether the mark is registered under the Trademarks Act. However, registered trademarks are easier to enforce and have a number of important advantages. First, since there is a Register maintained by CIPO, competitors can get notice of prior rights. Second, protection for the registered mark is given throughout Canada, regardless of whether the trademark is known in the area where the defendant is located. In contrast, the owner of an unregistered trademark must also establish the distinctiveness of the trademark, that is, that the public exclusively associates the trademark with the goods or services of the owner, and even if the requisite degree of distinctiveness can be shown (and this is sometimes expensive and difficult to prove), the scope of protection is limited to the geographical area in which distinctiveness is proven. Third, a registration provides prima facie evidence of the ownership of a work, and the dates of first use shown on the registration page.
Lastly, a registration may have a greater persuasive impact on a potential infringer than an allegation of rights arising through use.