Look through existing intellectual property (IP) rights (trademarks, patents, industrial designs) to learn if your creation is unique and novel. Information about existing IP rights for patents, industrial designs and trademarks is available in public databases.
On this page
- Trademarks databases
- Patents databases
- Industrial designs databases
- Copyright databases
- IP Horizons (download bulk IP data)
Search before you apply
Searching for existing IP can reduce the likelihood of future headaches like these:
- spending time and money trying to protect your creation only to realize it cannot be protected
- being pulled into lawsuits if you infringe on someone else's IP rights
- having to license others' IP
- having to rebrand or reformat your new product if the brand name or logo (trademark) is already used by someone else or can't be protected
Scope of the search
The scope of the search can be general or detailed and depends on things like the following:
- the risk tolerance of your company
- the timing of the search
- the stage of development of your IP
- the size of your investment vs. potential gains of further developing your idea
Find an IP agent
Be aware that searching, finding and understanding IP rights can be complex. An IP professional can be of great help and often have experience in searching and drafting IP documents. It is strongly advised to seek the help of a professional such as the following:
- an IP professional: someone with extensive experience offering their advice as a service
- an IP agent: someone who has passed qualifying exams and is entitled to act on your behalf with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office
- an IP lawyer: a qualified lawyer with specialization in IP law and related legal matters
It can be well worth your time to prepare well before you meet with an IP professional. Do your own preliminary search and ask the experts to fill in the gaps.
Do a search in the markets you are interested in to avoid conflicts with IP rights of third parties in those jurisdictions. Look for where your competitors and partners have filed for IP protection, as this is usually a good indicator of their key regions.
There are some important limitations to be aware of:
Patent applications filed less than 18 months ago are only available if the applicant specifically asks for them. Due to the complexity of claims, vocabulary and different languages, it is practically impossible to find every relevant publication.
In general, business names are not necessarily registered as trademarks. Also, in some countries like Canada, trademarks do not have to be registered and may be protected under common law, or in the case of Quebec, civil law.
Copyright is automatically established when a work is created. Canada and more than 170 other countries have signed the Berne Convention, which deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors. There is no international copyright registration system or requirement for formal registration. Most countries have a system in place to allow for the formal registration of copyrights, but it is usually only searchable by title.
Note: This is an initial search only. Let an IP professional verify and complement your search.
Canadian trademarks search
Search and study trademarks, including all marks that were cancelled, expunged, abandoned or refused.
Goods and services classification
Search acceptable goods and services classifications, including trademark classes, trilateral entries and Nice classes.
Global Brand Database
Search 40,990,000 records from national and international collections.
Search European trademarks.
Canadian patents search
Search for laid-open applications and patents granted in Canada since August 1978.
Search international patents and access international Patent Cooperation Treaty applications and patent documents of participating patent offices.
Search European patent documents and find information about inventions and technical developments from participating patent offices worldwide.
European patent offices
Consult a list of national and regional patent offices.
Canadian industrial designs search
Search registered industrial designs in Canada.
Global Design Database
Search industrial designs registered under the Hague System or in participating national collections.
Search European designs.
Canadian copyright search
Search copyright on all original works dating back to 1991.
Download intellectual property data
IP Horizons is a databank consisting of trademark, industrial design and patent applications filed with CIPO.
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