The following is an overview of the different types of intellectual property available in Canada.
A Patent grants the exclusive right, privilege and liberty of making, using, and selling an invention, for the term of the patent, subject to adjudication. In general, an invention is any new, useful and unobvious art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter or any improvement thereto. This broad definition permits many things to be patented, however, there are also some things that are considered unpatentable:
- Mere scientific principles or abstract theorems
- Methods of doing business or similar professional methods
- Methods of medical treatment
- Computer programs per se
- Architectural plans
A patent is only granted for the physical embodiment of an idea or for a process that produces something tangible and saleable. Patentable subject matter generally takes the form of a product, process or apparatus having a technical and commercial objective or application.
A trademark is something that is used or proposed to be used for the purpose of distinguishing ones wares or services from those of others.
A trademark can be a word or words, a phrase or slogan, a symbol or logo, letters, numbers, shapes, designs, packages or get-ups. Trademarks that are the name of the wares or services in any language or which are deceptively misdescriptive are not registrable in Canada.
A trademark is different from a trade-name, although a trade-name, or a portion thereof, may in certain circumstances be used as a trademark. A trade name is the name under which any business is carried on.
An Industrial Design registration protects the shape, pattern or ornamentation applied to a useful manufactured article.
Legal protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works or computer software.
A trade secret is a secret method, device, process, or formula used to competitive advantage in business. Trade Secrets arise primariliy out of contractual obligations.
New plant varieties of certain crops can be protected under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act
Protection under this Act gives the owner control over the multiplication and sale of reproductive material for a particular plant variety. In order for such material to be protected, the varieties must be:
new (not previously sold);
distinct (different from all other varieties);
uniform (all plants are the same), and
stable (each generation remains consistently the same).
The term of protection is for up to 18 years. Like other forms of intellectual property, the onus is on the owners to enforce their rights.
This form in intellectual property protection is administered by Agriculture Canada, rather than the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.