Simple and easy ways to protect your ideas (patent, copyright, and trademarks).

Simple and easy way – hire an agent and pay for consultation (down side – $$$)

Or… read this article first!

What is Intellectual Property?

Why do you need the theory? Without understanding there is no practice.

One thing you need to know:

Intellectual property rights are created and protected by law. Just like you create your soon-to-be masterpiece, law creates mechanisms how to protect it.

While private property can take different forms and is tangible, intellectual property rights could be both tangible (ex. Patent) and intangible (copyrights), they are the product of our mind and thoughts. When used properly intellectual property laws protect our ownership rights on these new creative works, innovative ideas, and information. However, when these results of our mental effort are used improperly, we need tools to protect our rights, especially in the world of technologies when ‘downloading‘ and ‘copy pasting‘ is becoming a regular thing like brushing teeth, while most of regular users do not realize that they might be violating somebody‘s right and breaking the law. That is why intellectual property rights are created and protected by Patent Law, Trademark Law, and the Copyright Law. (Yates, Bereznicki-Korol, & Clarke, 2011)

Patent laws

Patent in Canada is governed by the Patent Act, 1985. The Patent Act defines ‘patent’ as

“letters patent for an invention”, which means “a patent is a right, granted by government, to exclude others from making, using, or selling your invention in Canada“. (Canadian Intellectual Property Office, 2010)

The main idea of the patent is to give to the inventor a monopoly over the original invention.

Important: invention must be registered as soon as possible. Hence, if you mark your product as ‘patent pending’ and launch your product before the patent has been granted, your invention is not protected.

Before applying make sure to check all available patent libraries for existing patents:

Canadian Patent Database

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) library

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Costs: legal fees $5,000-10,000 and more if you plan to apply for a patent in another country.  (Western Economic Diversification Canada, 2009)

Basic Checklist for the patent:

  • applicant is the inventor
  • original physical inventions or original processes
  • nobody else has been given a patent for the invention
  • the invention has not been disclosed anywhere for a year prior to the application date (including school papers)
  • the invention is useful or industry applicable
  • tiff or PDF file describing the invention

to calculate the exact amount of fee go to Tariff of Fees – Patents at Canadian Intellectual Property Office

For more information go to:

Filing/Completing a Canadian Application for Patent

Obtaining a Patent in Canada and USA

Trademark laws

A trade-mark is a word (or words), a design, or a combination of these, used to identify the goods or services of one person or organization. (Canadian Intellectual Property Office, 2010)

Trade-marks are protected by the federal Trade-marks Act, 1985.

Why is it important? Imagine that your product becomes a huge success, and somebody starts to use your product’s name to sell similar products or produces counterfeit. If you have registered your trade-mark, than all you have to worry about are legal fees.

(R) vs. TM

When trade-mark is registered it should be marked with symbol (R); however, if the trade-mark is unregistered, it can be marked with TM symbol. (Yates, Bereznicki-Korol, & Clarke, 2011)

Important: It is strongly recommended to register trade-mark with the help of an expert due to many reasons, such as the trade-mark should not be registered before for this class of products etc.

Trade-mark Agents list in Canada

If you want more, check out the web-site links, provided in patent section.

Copyright laws

The Copyright Act, 1985, protects the use of the created work, however does not protect the idea, thoughts between the lines, or process (subject of patent laws).

Simple meaning of “copyright” is “the right to copy.” “In general, only the copyright owner, often the creator of the work, is allowed to produce or reproduce the work or to permit anyone else to do so“.  (Canadian Intellectual Property Office, 2010)

Important good news: there is no need in registration and paying fees when it comes to the copyright. When you create the work you automatically become subject to copyright protection. You do not have to register or even publish your work; however, sometimes a registration may be a good thing to do, if you told all your friends about your great poem, song, etc. Registration can be done by Canadian Intellectual Property Office via mail, fax, or online.

Basic checklist:

  • work* (or the expression) must be original, not the idea
  • the individual of the copyrightable work is the author, or individual has the skill that is copyrightable.

*Copyright Act protects the following created works (Copyright Act (R.S., 1985, c. C-42), 2010):

artistic works includes paintings, drawings, maps, charts, plans, photographs, engravings, sculptures, works of artistic craftsmanship, architectural works, and compilations of artistic works;

dramatic works includes

(a) any piece for recitation, choreographic work or mime, the scenic arrangement or acting form of which is fixed in writing or otherwise,

(b) any cinematographic work, and

(c) any compilation of dramatic works;

literary works includes tables, computer programs, and compilations of literary works;

musical works means any work of music or musical composition, with or without words, and includes any compilation thereof;

communication signals means radio waves transmitted through space without any artificial guide, for reception by the public;

performer’s performances means any of the following when done by a performer:

(a) a performance of an artistic work, dramatic work or musical work, whether or not the work was previously fixed in any material form, and whether or not the work’s term of copyright protection under this Act has expired,

(b) a recitation or reading of a literary work, whether or not the work’s term of copyright protection under this Act has expired, or

(c) an improvisation of a dramatic work, musical work or literary work, whether or not the improvised work is based on a pre-existing work;

sound recordings means a recording, fixed in any material form, consisting of sounds, whether or not of a performance of a work, but excludes any soundtrack of a cinematographic work where it accompanies the cinematographic work.

For more information visit

A Guide to Copyrights

http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr02395.html#automatic

Where to look (acts and bylaws)?

The Copyright Act (protection of work, prohibiting of copyright or permit less reproduction)

The Patent Act (protection of original ideas and inventions)

The Trade-marks Act (protection of terms, symbols, and their combinations, and goodwill)

The Integrated Circuit Topography Act (to protect integrated circuit design of the computer chip)

ICTs (integrated circuit topographies) refer to the three-dimensional configurations of electronic integrated circuit products or layout designs.

The Industrial Design Act (protecting unique design against imitation)

Ways:

Canadian Intellectual Property Office

Confidentiality or Non-disclosure Agreements

Though we share ideas all the time, with friends, family, fellow-students, co-workers, etc., some ideas need to be protected before you share them. While silence is the ultimate tool from theft, it also prevents you from speaking with investors and making your dreams come true. That is why before explaining your idea it is better to sign Non-disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement.

Confidentiality agreement can be generated and updates here (2 weeks access costs $15) at LawDepot

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