Moment Factory – Story of IP

Moment Factory's goal is simple: to get people out of their homes and into a collective experience. The Montreal-based multimedia studio, co-founded by Sakchin Bessette and Dominic Audet, specializes in designing and producing immersive environments, combining video, lighting, architecture, sound and special effects. Since its inception in 2001, Moment Factory has created over 500 productions and now has offices in Montreal, Paris, Tokyo, New York and Singapore.

Moment Factory first gained global renown in 2012 with the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Madonna and then with the creation of its first sound and light show projected on the façade of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Selection and protection of intellectual property according to the product created

Moment Factory's expertise is no longer limited to show business. The company also creates permanent experiences in various places, such as municipal public squares, museums and heritage sites. It is important for Moment Factory to invest in and own its creations.

A request from the parc de la Gorge de Coaticook to illuminate its bridge and the surrounding forest was the triggering event that led the studio to protect its intellectual property (IP). As a result of this request, Moment Factory designed its illuminated night walk named "Foresta Lumina." "Foresta Lumina" was then registered as a trademark and a copyright. There was a great interest in this type of experience, and other "Lumina" night walks were designed for elsewhere in Quebec, Canada and then abroad. Moment Factory had just created an exportable product—the Lumina Night Walk.

Moment Factory, Foresta Lumina
© Moment Factory, Foresta Lumina

"We're mostly protecting the brands of those experiences. The ones that are exported and reproduced. There are now nearly 20 Lumina Night Walks around the world," explains Marie-Pier Veilleux, Director of Public Relations, International and Government Affairs at Moment Factory. As a result, the IP component became very important, and the multimedia studio continued to protect the products resulting from the creation of these experiences.

Copyright and the multimedia industry

In Canada, the Copyright Act applies to all original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. The Act protects the expression of an idea, not ideas by themselves.

The multimedia industry is relatively young, and IP is a controversial topic in this field. Some types of expertise are more difficult to protect. "The more traditional art forms, such as music, literature and visual arts, all have a system of copyright protection. For example, it's very clear how to protect the copyright of a music composer, but can the work of a lighting designer be protected by that same copyright? Is the field of multimedia considered art or not?" Marie-Pier wonders.

The illumination of Jacques-Cartier Bridge, developed by Moment Factory and its collaborators, is a good example of an unpublished work protected by copyright. Some people are surprised by this, because it is a part of the urban infrastructure. If Moment Factory becomes aware that an image of the illuminated bridge is being used for promotional purposes, the agency or individual will be notified that this is unique and exclusive content and that they will consequently have to pay royalties. "If someone wants to use our images for advertising or commercial purposes, we use the visual arts fee schedule of the Canadian Artists' Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), because there is no equivalent in multimedia. This fee schedule for visual arts is the closest to what we do," explains Marie-Pier.

Moment Factory, Foresta Lumina
© Moment Factory Jacques-Cartier Bridge

Copyright in business

Moment Factory studios would not be the same without the creative minds of its employees, artists and occasional freelancers. It is by combining their ideas and expertise that the company's productions and destinations are created.

According to the Copyright Act, the first owner of the copyright is the author of the created work. If a work is created in the course of employment, the copyright belongs to the employer. However, this rule does not apply to consultants or self-employed individuals who deal with a company on a sporadic basis. Companies usually use an employment contract to get around this rule and include a copyright transfer clause to ensure that they become the owner.

Due to the nature of Moment Factory as a company, its casual employees obviously sign this type of contract when they are hired. "Freelancers from external studios sign contracts. They will often reuse their work in their personal portfolios, but what is created and the associated copyrights belong to Moment Factory," Marie-Pier explains.

The importance of contracting

IP rights have been instrumental in Moment Factory's growth and success. The studio's goal is to continue to create, innovate and protect its IP rights. Its efforts are focused on the experiences it develops and exports that have a revenue-generating system. It is essential for Moment Factory to protect its IP rights abroad, since 90% of its projects are now international. Marie-Pier concludes the interview with an important point about IP: "For a growing company, it's very important to establish and clarify contracts. IP is regulated nationally, and you need to bear in mind that your IP is registered here in Canada, not anywhere else. It's impossible to be everywhere abroad, so you need to identify what your priority jurisdictions are and make sure you're protected there." 

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) resources

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