By Anna Okorokov

In a world inundated with advertisements it is often difficult to know where to start to promote your own company.  Do you do Instagram sponsored posts, radio ads, flyers, email promotions, print ads in magazines and newspapers or internet banners? Or none of the above and rely on your website’s SEO configuration? No matter which of the above options you are currently employing, there are important legal considerations for each type of advertising.  Two important questions to ask are:

  1. Is my advertisement in compliance with legislation and common law?

  2. How am I protecting my brand?

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL) has imposed numerous new rules and obligations when it comes to advertising. Violating those rules can result in hefty monetary penalties.

For example, a small business which sent out emails advertising its flyer printing business was fined $15,000.00 for not including required details in the emails. Under CASL rules, any emails sent out need to have the contact information of the sender, an unsubscribe option, and prior consent of the recipient to receive such emails, among other items.

If you are doing print advertising, the Competition Act prohibits false or misleading information on all advertisements. But what constitutes misleading advertising? For example, if your website has a testimonial from Bob Smith saying you make the best pies in the world, you actually need proof of Bob Smith’s consent to publish that statement!

In the event that you have a contest to promote your products, undue delay in the distribution of those prizes can also land you in hot water.

In addition to these two examples, there are many more areas business owners must consider when it comes to compliance with the Competition Act.

Is your Brand Protected?

Your company’s image and reputation is what will get your products off the aisles and into consumer hands.  For this reason, branding is critically intertwined with all marketing and advertising efforts. If you have a mark that you are using for your business, that mark first has to pass a few tests.

  1. Is your mark distinctive?

  2. Is your mark descriptive?

  3. Does someone else have a mark similar to yours?

If you would like to register your mark as a trademark at some point in the future, it is vital that the mark you decide to associate with your company passes the first two tests. You don’t want to invest five years and a bunch of money into a mark which will eventually get rejected by the Trademarks Office because it is descriptive and not distinctive.  Likewise, if someone has a mark similar to yours, it is advisable to speak to a lawyer to see what your options are.

Once your mark is registered and approved, you also have to protect you mark by stopping anyone else from using it.

The world of marketing and advertising is full of hidden traps. Make sure you have all the tools to let your brand succeed. Give us a call to discuss your marketing strategy and brand protection.