Trademarks are protected items that identify and differentiate businesses in the marketplace.
"What are trademarks?" According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO):
A trademark is a combination of letters, words, sounds or designs that distinguishes one company’s goods or services from those of others in the marketplace.
This short video will explain the difference between a trademark, a patent and copyright. As an animator, you'll be most interested in trademarks and copyright.
From the CIPO "Trademark Guide":
By registering your trademark, you protect it under law from misuse by others, and you gain exclusive rights to use it throughout Canada for 10 years (a term that you can renew).
Over time, trademarks come to stand for not only the actual goods or services a person or company provides, but also the reputation of the producer. Trademarks are very valuable intellectual property.
There are several types of trademarks:
An ordinary trademark includes words, designs, tastes, textures, moving images, mode of packaging, holograms, sounds, scents, three-dimensional shapes, colours, or a combination of these used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others. For example, suppose you started a courier business that you chose to call Giddy-up. You could register these words as a trademark (if you met all the legal requirements) for the service that you offer.
A certification mark can be licensed to many people or companies for the purpose of showing that certain goods or services meet a defined standard. For example, the Woolmark design, owned by Woolmark Americas Ltd., is used on clothing and other goods.