Protecting your intellectual property
Intellectual property holds tremendous value to businesses, but companies sometimes place too little importance on their IP. Intellectual assets must be protected to distinguish the business from their competition, make sure they actually own the IP they think they own, avoid risks of unknowingly using third-party proprietary content, or inadvertently losing valuable IP rights.
Harrison Pensa’s IP lawyers are well-versed in safeguarding creativity and innovation. As copyright lawyers and trademark lawyers, we enforce IP rights to help businesses preserve a competitive advantage. We can help you manage the ownership, registration, and use of IP to ensure your intellectual property is protected.
Helping protect intellectual property for businesses:
- Registering and enforcing trademarks
- IP cease and desist letters
- Employment and non-disclosure agreements
- IP assignment and license documents
- IP, Privacy, and IT issues when buying or selling a business
Intellectual Property FAQ
Here are some questions that Canadian businesses should ask about intellectual property. This is general simplified information, not specific legal advice.
IP is fundamentally about things you can’t touch that have value. IP includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs, moral rights, and trade secrets.
Anything that an individual creates, such as computer code, art, photos, written word.
That depends. From a copyright perspective if an employee authors a creative work, the employer owns it. Ownership of patents created by employees depends on the circumstances. If a third party creates the work (e.g., an independent contractor), that third party owns it. If a generative AI tool is used to create a work, no one may own it. It is important to include ownership and assignment language in employment contracts and contracts with third parties that create anything for you.
Payment for the work is not definitive. You may only have an implied non-exclusive license for limited use of it. A written agreement with clear ownership language is crucial.
Moral rights are related to copyright. It is the right of the author of a work to be identified as the author. It is also to ensure the author’s reputation is not diminished by the use of the work. While copyright can be assigned, moral rights can only be waived. It is important to include moral rights waivers in agreements with individuals, and representations about moral rights waivers in contracts with businesses that create anything for you. Not having waivers can get in the way of financings, product sales, and even your use of the work.
Copyright is automatic. Marking it is not legally required but is a good idea. It decreases the chances someone will try to copy it.
Registering copyright doesn’t give you rights you don’t already have. But it reverses the onus on proving ownership and can be helpful in enforcement. It can be worthwhile for important works.
Not unless it has been published with explicit license language allowing you to use it. Or if your use falls under one of the fair dealing exceptions under the Copyright Act.
The test for copyright infringement requires more than a trivial amount to be used. Guidelines are available from various sources that purport to set out bright line tests such as numbers of words, or percentage of the work. But judges don’t pay attention to any of those.
NDAs can be useful to keep IP and other sensitive information confidential when you share it with others. But they won’t help if the other party isn’t ethical or trustworthy.
Unlike other types of IP, a patent can’t be filed if it has become public for more than a year. If you think you have something that is patentable, talk to a patent agent soon to make sure the one year rule does not prevent your filing.
Protect your intellectual property.
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