In any business, it’s important to maintain and protect your inventions, proprietary information and corporate identity. Copyrights, trademarks and patents help you do that. But how do you know when to consider these options and what does each apply to?
Copyright means “the right to copy”. Essentially, you own the work. A copyright is an intellectual property law that protects original works that fall under literature, drama, music, art or technical (such as computer software or architecture). It’s important to recognize that a copyright does notprotect the facts, systems, ideas or methods within such works, but rather protects the way in which they are expressed.
Did You Know?
The moment an original piece of work is created, copyright automatically exists. But, when youregister your copyright you receive a certificate that clearly states you are the owner, which can be used to defend you in court.
Copyright or No Copyright?
Deciding to register a copyright really comes down to one question: how easy do you want it to be for you to prove the fact that your work is, in fact, your work?
A trademark could be a word (or a combination of words), a design, or both and it is used to identify the products or services belonging to a person or organization. In a competitive marketplace, it’s critical that you are unique, original and distinct – that you STAND OUT. Your trademark helps customers distinguish your products and services from others in the industry.
Did You Know?
If you find yourself or your company involved in a trademark dispute, if you have a registeredtrademark, it isn’t up to you to prove it but rather the responsibility of your challenger.
Trademark or No Trademark?
Deciding whether or not to register a trademark means determining how critical it is for you to “make your mark” in your industry. Is it essential that you have a word or design or both that really defines you and sets you apart from everyone else doing what you’re doing?
A patent is used to protect your invention. When you have a patent in Canada, this prevents anyone else from making, using or selling your invention within the country. You can obtain a patent for a new and useful piece of art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of some kind – or, an improvement to any of these things.
Did You Know?
Patenting your invention can take several years! First, your invention is compared to current patent and technical literature. If your invention is not infringing on any other registered patents, then you must assemble a detailed patent application that requires your time, money and sometimes even a professional patent agent. Then you wait.
Patent or No Patent?
Making the decision about whether or not to patent your invention really comes down to a single question: do you want to prevent any and everyone else from having the opportunity to make, use or sell your invention? If the answer is yes, apply for a patent. On the other hand, if you are confident that you can make a great living selling your invention and it won’t matter if someone else sells something similar, then it’s likely a lengthy process you can forego.
If you’re not sure how to navigate the intellectual property legal system, get advice from a legal attorney you can trust.