Trade Marks, Copyrights & Patents

In Canada, intellectual properties such as a name (of a person, business, product, service, etc.), or a word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or any combination thereof, can be protected by copyrights, trade marks, and in some cases, patents. Your business tag line and that computer program you wrote, or the web design you created, are all examples of intellectual property that should be protected.

Use of a trade mark symbol in the upper right hand corner beside the intellectual property identifies that it has originated from an exclusive source or person/business. There are two types of trade mark symbols:

™ indicates the trade mark is unregistered, ie

Zebra Quest™

® registered trade mark

Although registering the trade mark is not required, it does provide greater protection for the trade mark owner against unauthorized use.

Continuous, active use and re-registration of a trade mark can make ownership of the intellectual property infinite. In contrast, copyright has a limited timeframe (duration plus 70 years of the author’s/artist’s lifespan).

A copyright gives exclusive rights to the artist or author – the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. These rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned.

A patent is a government granted right to exclusively make, use or sell a product.

If in doubt how you should best protect your rights, check with a legal advisor and/or consult the Canadian Intellectual Property Office