What is IP?

An introduction to intellectual property

Patents, trade-marks, copyright, industrial designs and similar rights are referred to as "intellectual property" (IP). The rights are "intellectual" in the sense that they protect intangible subjects, usually arising out of some form of human creativity. These rights are "property" in the sense that they are based on the legal right to exclude others from using the property and the exclusive legal right to transfer ownership.

Multiple IP Rights may require protection for a single product/service. Patent rights cover the invention, industrial design rights cover the design, trade-marks cover the name/brand and copyright covers the written information about the brand.  Other types of IP may also apply in certain situations.

The Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC) maintains lists of patent and trade-mark professionals who are trained and experienced in intellectual property law and are registered to practice before the Canadian Patent Office and Canadian Trade-marks Office.  Patent agents and trade-mark agents do not have to be lawyers, although many are.  Registered patent agents typically have expertise in one or more scientific disciplines and are experienced in analyzing inventions and in writing patent specifications and claims. Registered trade-mark agents and lawyers practising in the intellectual property field typically have expertise and are experienced in legal aspects of use of trade-marks and trade names, registration of trade-marks and maintenance and protection thereof.

Efforts made in advance of meeting with such a Canadian intellectual property professional to gain a basic understanding of the nature and scope of intellectual property rights can be useful in understanding the advice given and in making sound business decisions about such rights.