property", known as patents, trade marks, copyrights, industrial designs
and trade secrets, is a cornerstone of business. Like other valuable business assets, this
"property" must be protected. Where
would Coca Cola Company be if everyone had free access to its "Coke"
are the differences between the various categories of Intellectual property?
To illustrate, consider how a new and improved garden tool might be
protected from exploitation by competitors.
protect an "invention" which is defined as "any new and useful
art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter", or any new and
useful improvement to these items. In
the case of the garden tool, a patent might protect the structure of the tool,
how it works or the method of assembling it.
patent information. (here)
MARKS are used to distinguish one trader's wares (i.e. goods) or services
from another's. They should not simply
describe the character or quality of the wares or services. In the case of the garden tool, the trade mark is the name or
logo/design under which the tool is known or marketed.
A good example in the distinctive "Kodak" trade mark for
trade mark information. (here)
DESIGNS in Canada (called a "design patent" in the US) protect an
object's shape, pattern or ornamentation which appeals to and is judged solely
by the eye. For example, the garden
tool may have a distinctive shape or appealing ornamental (i.e. nonfunctional)
aspect which can be protected by an industrial design.
The industrial design would not stop others from making a garden tool
different in appearance but identical in function.
to the Guide to Industrial Designs from CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property
Office) for more information.
protects how an idea is expressed, and not the idea itself.
Copyright subsists in every original literary, dramatic, musical and
artistic work. A "literary
work" includes, for example, books, blue prints and computer programs, and
an "artistic work" includes paintings, drawings, photographs and the
like. Taking the garden tool
example, copyright may exist in any labels affixed to the tool or in instruction
manuals, but won't protect how the tool functions.
copyright information. (here)
SECRETS, also known as "confidential information", may consist of an
unpatented but secret formula, device or industrial process known only to a few
employees. Unlike patents, a trade
secret need not have any novelty, although it must not be allowed to become
public property or public knowledge. Merely
stating that something is a trade secret or is confidential does not make it so
unless it is. Anyone who uncovers a
trade secret by examining a product on sale, or in any other proper manner, has
the right to use it. There are
obviously no registration requirements for trade secrets.
web site is intended to provide general information about intellectual property
and should not be considered as advice on the specifics of your case.
Each situation is different, and so to discuss your particular
circumstances, please get in touch with me.
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