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Intellectual Property: How Can It Protect Your Business Intelligence?

image5Your business intelligence has strategic value. For many companies, this is called intellectual property assets (IP). That’s why it is important to know how to carefully protect them with an effective intellectual property strategy.

 

DEFINITION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The term “intellectual property” or “IP” refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.

Below are the various types of protectable intellectual property discussed in this article:

  • Patents
  • Industrial secrets
  • Trademarks
  • Copyright
  • Industrial designs

 

THE PATENT   

A patent is an exclusive right granted an individual for an invention. This can be a product or process that generally provides a new way of doing something or that offers a new technical solution to a problem.

Below are a few examples of inventions that can be patented:

  • Product (e.g., a fountain pen)
  • Composition (e.g., chemical composition of the ink used in fountain pens)
  • Apparatus (e.g., used to make fountain pens)
  • Manufacturing process
  • Improvement of one of these elements

A few characteristics of a patent:  

  • Monopoly guaranteed for 20 years from the filing date in most countries
  • Creates value
  • Better control over sales price
  • Prevents and deters the competition from copying a product or process
  • Eliminates confidentiality issues
  • Revenue through sales or royalties

 

INDUSTRIAL SECRETS

Industrial secrets include all confidential information used by a company that gives it a competitive advantage, and which can be kept secret.

For example:

  • Information pertaining to the manufacture of a product
  • Operational information
  • Computer passwords

Confidential information and industry secrets do not benefit from statutory protection. In other words, silence remains their only true form of protection.

A few characteristics of an industrial secret:

  • Industrial secrets are protected by contract (preferably in writing) and rarely by legislation. Example: in the case of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
  • If the industrial secret is disclosed, there is no more protection and it becomes part of the public domain.

 

TRADEMARKS

A trademark includes one or more words, symbols, sounds or slogans capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. In order for a trademark to be recognized in Canada or the USA, it must be used in association with products or services. Elsewhere in the world, it must be registered to be duly recognized.

Here are some examples of trademarks:

  • Nike’s advertising slogan: “JUST DO IT”
  • One or more forms of the word OASIS
  • Apple’s logo

A few characteristics of a trademark:

  • By registering your trademark, you receive extended protection that mitigates legal action by your potential competitors (e.g., plagiarizing your name, logo, etc.).
  • Registering a trademark provides official recognition of the registrar for successive periods of 10 or 15 years, depending on the country.
  • A trademark that is registered in Canada gives its owner full monopoly over the entire country.
  • Registering a trademark will give you easier access to existing databases and you will allow you to avoid infringement actions.
  • The protection afforded to your brand applies at the national level.

 

COPYRIGHTS

In its simplest form, the term “copyright” means the right to reproduce (copyright). In general, it designates the exclusive right to produce or reproduce all or a major portion of the work in some way. This right includes the right to perform a work or a major portion of this work. If the work is not published, the copyright includes the right to publish the work or publish a major portion.

A copyright can apply to the following:

  • Literature (books, brochures, IT software programs)
  • Dramatic productions (films, screenplays)
  • Music
  • Art (photographs, logos, artwork, paintings, etc.)
  • Architecture (buildings)

A few characteristics of copyrights:

  • Relevant, especially in the software industry
  • Exclusive rights, generally for the life of the author(s) +50 years, to publish their work or give a designated representative the right to publish the work in question
  • Exists automatically without the necessity for registration
  • Does not include the title of the work
  • Importance of obtaining a written assignment and moral rights waiver from all authors

 

INDUSTRIAL DESIGN

An industrial design includes the visual characteristics pertaining to the shape, configuration, pattern or decorative elements of a manufactured product, or any combination of these elements.

Industrial designs can come in many forms.

For example:

  • The shape of a packaging container
  • The shape of the object itself

A few characteristics of industrial design:  

  • It must be registered to be protected
  • Registering an industrial design provides protection for more than ten years in Canada, 14 years in the United States, and 25 years in Europe

 

HOW TO BENEFIT FROM THE ADVANTAGES OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

It can be very advantageous for your company to establish an intellectual property strategy. As you have already seen, there are several differences among the different IP assets. That’s why it is often preferable to speak with a firm of experts if you are not sure about how to proceed.

 

Our IP experts will help you to:

  • Identify and list all of your intellectual property assets
  • Decide upon the best intellectual property strategy that is in line with your business vision and your budget

 

Consult the links below to learn more.

 

You can also contact us directly for any questions regarding patentability and to obtain advice on intellectual property at: info@brouillette.ca, or simply complete this form for a free consultation.

 

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