What kind of protection is available?

What kind of protection is available?

The most commonly considered forms of protection for “things” are those offered by the trade-mark, copyright, industrial design, and patent statutes in Canada. In addition, there is a body of common law that deals with the protection of ideas by way of contract and trade secret. A brief explanation of each of these forms of intellectual property is as follows:

Trade-mark Law gives to the owner of a trade-mark such as a word, design or logo, the exclusive right to use that trade-mark in association with the wares and services with which it has been or will be used. If registered, the trade-mark receives nation-wide protection. See our booklet entitled “You Name it! An Introduction to Trade-mark Law”.

Copyright Law gives to the author of a literary, musical, artistic, photographic work, or a computer program, the exclusive right during the author’s lifetime, and in most instances for fifty years after the author’s death, to copy or perform the particular work or a substantial part of that work.

Industrial Design Law gives to the proprietor of a design applied to an article, or the shape of that article the exclusive right to that design for ten years from the date of registration.

Patent Law gives to the inventor of a new inventive thing such as a product, process or machine, the exclusive right to make, to use, and to sell that thing in Canada for a period of twenty years from the date the patent application was filed. Computer Chip Designs may be protected by the Integrated Circuit Topography Act.

Plant Varieties may be registered under the Plant Breeders Act.

Contract Law permits any two or more people or organizations to agree with each other that certain information may be disclosed and used in certain ways.

Trade Secret Law provides that a secret must be honoured by persons who received it under an express or implied obligation of confidence.

In all cases, it is up to the person who owns the trade-mark, copyright, industrial design or patent, who is a party to the contract, or who claims the trade secret, to protect and then to enforce those rights.

You cannot protect patent or industrial design unless you apply to register them in the proper way. Furthermore, the government will not enforce these rights against someone that you believe may have encroached upon or used your idea without your permission. You must takes steps necessary to preserve these rights yourself, usually with the assistance of a lawyer.