Intellectual property for small businesses in Canada

intellectual property canada

How can you protect your small business’ intellectual property in Canada?

Let’s discuss the main ways you can protect your IP. These are: patents, copyright, trademarks, industrial design patents, integrated circuit topographies, and trade secrets.

Patent

Patents are needed for new gadgets, processes, apparatuses, products, or compositions of matter that haven’t had any previous exposure to the world. To patent an invention, it has to be the first of its kind in the world, be useful and not obvious to someone familiar with that area of expertise.

You can’t patent for an idea, an abstract theorem, a method of doing business, a medical treatment or a computer program.

A patent gives you the exclusive right to produce, manufacture, use and sell the product. However, you’ll also have to disclose all information about the design to the world. You can also patent an improvement or a refinement to a product, but you’ll have to disclose design information here too.

Copyright

Copyright covers any creative work of expression (literary books/leaflets/periodicals, lectures/sermons, artistic, musical, dramatic, databases, computer programs or sound/video recording), and lasts the lifetime of the artist plus 50 years. This gives you the right to control and the right to be paid royalties.

Trademark

A trademark protects an identifying mark for 15 years once registered with Strategis Canada. However, the trademark can be renewed after the 15 year period. A trademark can be obtained for anything used to distinguish you from a competitor, like a word, phrase, logo, picture, shape, design, certification mark, or even the shape of words. With this protection, nothing confusingly similar can be used legally. However, depending on your success, it may be possible to lose your trademark name. For example, Zipper, Kleenex, Band-Aid and Xerox aren’t trade names anymore because they’ve become generic household names.

Industrial design

Industrial design can cover unique ideas, features, patterns, configurations, shapes, or ornaments of an object and is protected for 10 years. The design is usually an article made by tools, machines or hand. For example, the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle or of a snowboard are both industrial designs.

Integrated circuit topographies

Integrated circuit topographies (computer chips, microchips or semiconductor chips) are protected for 10 years. You can protect against reproduction, manufacturing, importation or exploitation of an integrated circuit.

Trade secret

A trade secret is a piece of knowledge that isn’t published and is kept confidential. Some examples of trade secrets are the formula for Silly Putty, a company’s customer lists and the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Non-disclosure agreements or non-compete contracts are signed to keep these secrets a secret, and anyone could be sued for all potential damages if they have loose lips. Trade secrets never expire.

Any of these intellectual properties can be licensed instead of registered by you. In this case, you may not have enough money to register the property and you may give the right to another person or company to manufacture or sell your invention in exchange for royalties. In fact, this is done quite often. Some people also share their patents and discoveries with others to further research and design activities.

Visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s website for more info on intellectual property in Canada.

Share this post:

All about industrial design, integrated circuit topographies, and trade secrets

Along with starting your own business from scratch; buying into a franchise; creating a family-owned business; and buying an existing business, licensing your product idea is one pathway into entrepreneurship. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are three of the better-known forms of intellectual property protection for a small business.

Today, we’re going to look at three other types: Industrial design, integrated circuit topographies, and trade secrets.

Industrial Design
Protecting your industrial design means protecting the unique ideas, features, configurations, shapes, patterns and ornaments of your product — basically, the way it looks.

Integrated Circuit Topographies
Three-dimensional circuit designs used in a wide variety of mechanical and electrical products. Registering your business’ unique integrated circuit topography grants you exclusive rights – find out more at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Trade Secret
A piece of information used within the business that is kept strictly confidential. Trade secrets can include production methods, formulas and customer lists. Think of the formula for Coca-Cola or the recipe for McDonalds’ Big Mac special sauce.

Share this post:

What’s an industrial design patent?

industrial-design-patentIndustrial design patents can cover unique ideas, features, patterns, configurations, shapes, or ornaments of an object, and is protected for 10 years. The design is usually an article made by tools, machines, or hand.

For example, the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle or of a snowboard are both industrial designs. Basically, an industrial design patent covers the way a product looks. It can cover the shape of an object, as well as 2D features like its colour or its patterns.

Registering an industrial design patent

You must register your industrial design within 12 months of publication, so it’s protected against imitation. To register an industrial design patent, you need to submit an application form with a photo or drawing of your property, followed by an assessment. This process can take up to a year, due to the amendments and additional information that might be needed, and usually costs around $400. The maintenance of the registration fee, however, can cost around $350.

To show you’ve got an industrial design patent, you can use a capital “D” inside a circle on the object in question, followed by your name.

You can read more about industrial designs at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s website.

Further reading about intellectual property:

Share this post:

Intellectual property protection for small businesses

intellectual-property-protectionThe main forms of protecting your intellectual property are: patents, copyright, trademarks, industrial design patents, integrated circuit topographies and trade secrets.

Patent

If you’ve finally reinvented the wheel, you’ll probably need a patent. Patents are needed for new gadgets, processes, apparatuses, products or compositions of matter that have had no previous exposure to the world. To patent an invention, it must be the first of its kind in the world, be useful and must not be obvious to someone familiar with that area. You can’t get a patent for an idea, an abstract theorem, a method of doing business, a medical treatment or a computer program.

A patent will give you the exclusive right to produce, manufacture, use and sell the product. However, you’ll also have to disclose all information about the design to the world. You can also patent an improvement or a refinement to a product, but you’ll have to disclose design information here too.

Copyright

Copyright covers any creative work of expression (literary books/leaflets/periodicals, lectures/sermons, artistic, musical, dramatic, databases, computer programs or sound/video recording), and lasts the lifetime of the artist plus 50 years. This gives you the right to control and the right to be paid royalties.

Trademark

A trademark protects an identifying mark for 15 years once registered with Strategis Canada. However, the trademark can be renewed after the 15 year period. A trademark can be obtained for anything used to distinguish you from a competitor, like a word; phrase; logo; picture; shape; design; certification mark or even the shape of words. With this protection, nothing confusingly similar can be used legally. However, depending on your success, it may be possible to lose your trademark name. For example, Zipper, Kleenex, Band-Aid and Xerox aren’t trade names anymore because they’ve become generic household names.

Industrial design

Industrial design can cover unique ideas, features, patterns, configurations, shapes, or ornaments of an object and is protected for 10 years. The design is usually an article made by tools, machines or hand. For example, the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle or of a snowboard are both industrial designs.

Integrated circuit topographies

Integrated circuit topographies (computer chips, microchips or semiconductor chips) are protected for 10 years. You can protect against reproduction, manufacturing, importation or exploitation of an integrated circuit. In order to register, you must send an application to the CIPO’s Registrar of Topographies within two years of the first use.

Trade secret

A trade secret is a piece of knowledge that isn’t published and is kept confidential. Some examples of trade secrets are the formula for Silly Putty, a company’s customer lists and the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Non-disclosure agreements or non- compete contracts are signed to keep these secrets a secret, and anyone could be sued for all potential damages if they have loose lips. Trade secrets never expire.

Any of these intellectual properties can be licensed instead of registered by you. In this case, you may not have enough money to register the property and you may give the right to another person or company to manufacture or sell your invention in exchange for royalties. In fact, this is done quite often. Some people also share their patents and discoveries with others to further research and design activities.

Share this post: