The term “intellectual property” (IP) refers to patents, trade-marks, copyright, industrial designs and similar rights.
These rights are “property” in that they are based on the legal right to exclude others from using the property and ownership of the rights can be transferred.
These rights are “intellectual” in that they protect intangible subjects, usually arising out of some form of human creativity. Intellectual property falls within the federal government’s jurisdiction. There are separate Acts for each of kind of IP.
A patent is a bundle of important, and potentially, economically valuable rights.
The governing legislation is the Patent Act. A patent is obtained from the Patent Office which is a federal government agency. A patent provides a patent owner with the exclusive right to manufacture, sell and use the patented invention.
A trade-mark is a word, design, number, two-dimensional or three-dimensional form, sound or color, or a combination of two or more of these elements which a trader uses to distinguish its products or services from those of its competitors and serves to establish goodwill with the consumer.
Almost every kind of company that operates a business uses some kind of trade-mark to identify its products or services. The governing legislation is the Trade-marks Act. The Trade-marks Office administers the trade-mark registration system.
Copyright is the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or any substantial part of it in any material form, to perform the work or any substantial part of it in public, or, if the work is unpublished, to publish the work or any substantial part of it.
Any original literary (including software), dramatic, musical, or artistic work qualifies for copyright protection. Generally originality requires that the work originate with the author, rather than it have any particular novelty or merit.
Works protected by copyright include books, articles, sheet music, illustrations, photographs, motion pictures, works of sculpture and computer programs. Copyright protects the form of expression rather than the idea expressed. The governing legislation is the Copyright Act.
Copyright protection is automatic. While formal registration of a work is not required, it is advisable, as is marking copyrighted works with the symbol ©, the publication date and the copyright owner’s name.
Industrial designs are features of shape or ornamentation that give a manufactured article visual appeal. Some objects that are the subject of industrial designs can also be protected by copyright, and some can even be protected by trade-mark rights.
But most of these objects can only be protected by getting an industrial design registration. It has a term of ten years.
The types of articles often protected by design registration include containers, furniture, home appliances, clothing items, and fashion accessories. The governing legislation is the Industrial Design Act.
If you have questions about IP, or want assistance protecting and registering your rights, call us.