Protecting original ideas and intellectual property, through patents, trademarks and copyrights, is integral to the success of your business; this is particularly important when entering a new market.
When it comes to patents, industrial designs and trade marks, registering your IP in Canada is not enough. These ideas must be registered with the proper authorities in your target market.
Copyrights are slightly different. Canadian copyrights are recognized globally, provided the country you are doing business in has signed the Berne Copyright Convention or the Universal Copyright Convention.
Patents cover new inventions, such as processes, machines, manufacturing techniques or new improvements to existing inventions.
Industrial design refers to features that give a product its unique appearance.
Trademarks cover words, names, symbols, sounds or colours that distinguish your goods or services from others.
Copyrights cover published and unpublished works, including books, movies, music, sound and video recordings, magazines, artwork and computer software.
Where these legal IP protections don’t extend, you can employ confidentiality provisions in contracts to protect your company’s secrets.
If you need to license your IP to a foreign company, ensure that wording in the country is precise about what that company can or cannot do with it. Being vague in this regard can lead to IP theft.
This video from the U.S. International Trade Administration provides some solid tips on protecting IP that while focused on the United States are applicable to all exporters:
Our government’s Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), under Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, has a plethora of resources to help you protect your IP both at home and abroad.