First things first: get a quick handle on the basics of intellectual property before going forward.
What are intellectual assets?
Intellectual assets are what we call "intangible" assets. They include inventions, new technologies, new brands, original software, novel designs, unique processes, and much more. These assets have value in the marketplace very much like tangible assets, or assets that you can hold in your hand.
In today's knowledge-based economy, it is crucial that you use your intellectual assets strategically as you run your business. If you protect them, they can give your business a competitive advantage over other players in the market. Your intellectual assets have the potential to make you a great deal of money.
How to protect your intellectual assets
Your competitors could be tempted to capture some of your intellectual assets, unless you properly protect those assets.
In Canada, you can protect your intellectual property by submitting applications for a patent, a trademark, an industrial design or for the registration of a copyright with us—whichever applies to your situation.
Follow Peter's path to learn more about how you can protect your innovation. Contact us if you need help.
Patents, industrial designs, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets
Patents give you exclusive rights to your innovations
A patent is granted to you by the government. It gives you the right to exclude others from making, using or selling your invention. Your Canadian patent applies within Canada for 20 years from the date you file the application. The patent application is available to the public 18 months after you file it. Patents cover new inventions (process, machine, product, composition of matter) or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention. What is a patent?
Industrial designs relate to the visual appearance of a product
An industrial design is the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament, or any combination of these features, applied to a finished article. For example, the shape of a table or the shape and decoration of a spoon may be industrial designs. An industrial design must have features that appeal to the eye. To be eligible for registration, your design must be original. What is an industrial design?
Trademarks distinguish your product or service
A trademark may be one or a combination of words, sounds or designs used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others in the marketplace. What is a trademark?
Copyright gives you the right to copy a work
In general, a copyright is the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it, in any form. It includes the right to perform the work or any substantial part of it or, in the case of a lecture, to deliver it. If the work is unpublished, copyright includes the right to publish the work or any substantial part of it. Copyright provides protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs) and other subject matter known as performer's performances, sound recordings and communication signals. What is copyright?
Trade secrets include your valuable business information
A trade secret includes any valuable business information that derives its value from the secrecy. Trade secrets include various assets such as sales methods, distribution methods, customer profiles, client lists, supplier lists, product ingredients and formulas, etc. What is a trade secret?
Try this free IP awareness assessment tool — USPTO