Other types of IP

Other types of IP

Integrated Circuit Topographies

ICTs (integrated circuit topographies) refer to the three-dimensional configurations (lay-out designs) of electronic circuits used in microchips and semiconductor chips (i.e. the arrangement on a chip of semiconductor devices such as transistors and passive electronic components such as resistors and interconnections). There is continuing demand for new lay-out designs that reduce the dimensions of existing integrated circuits and simultaneously increase their functions.  The smaller an integrated circuit, the less material required for its manufacture, and the smaller space required for its accommodation. Integrated circuits are used in virtually all electronic equipment today (computers, mobile phones and other digital home appliances that are part of modern societies). 

Due to the functional nature of the lay-out designs, they cannot be protected under copyright law (except perhaps as decorative art).  Similarly, some lay-out designs (i.e. lithographic works), are not clearly protectable subject matter and may not be effectively protected under patent law.  Thus the introduction of the Integrated Circuit Topographies in the 1990s. Registration of ICT rights extend exclusive legal rights to exclude others from reproducing the topography (surface shape and features), and from manufacturing an integrated circuit product that incorporates the topography, or a substantial part of it.  ICTs can be assigned, licensed or used to negotiate funding.

For more information on integrated circuit topographies, contact a patent agent.

Plant Breeder’s Rights

PBRs (plant breeder’s rights) refer to varieties of some plant species. In order to qualify for exclusive rights, a variety must be new, distinct, uniform and stable.  A variety is “new” if it has not been commercialized for more than a year.  A variety is “distinct” if it differs from all other known varieties by one or more important botanical characteristic, such as height, maturity, colour, etc.  A variety is “uniform” if the plant characteristics are consistent from plant to plan within the variety.  A variety is “stable” if the plant characteristics are genetically fixed and therefore remain the same from generation to generation, or after a cycle of reproduction in the case of hybrid varieties. Registration of PBR extends exclusive legal rights to control the multiplication and sale of the seeds of new plant varieties for up to 18 years. The breeder must give the variety an acceptable “denomination”, which becomes its generic name and must be used by anyone who markets the variety.  PBRs may be assigned, licensed or used to negotiate funding.  It is important to note that other people can breed or save and grow the varieties for their own private use without asking for permission to do so. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the administration of the PBRs.

For more information on Plant Breeder’s Rights, contact a patent agent.

Domain Names

A domain name is the address of a web site that is intended to be easily identifiable and easy to remember, such as ipic.ca, or inta.org.  These addresses for websites help connect computers and people on the Internet. Unlike trademarks where identical marks can be owned by different owners if the wares and services are sufficiently different, there can be only one owner of a specific domain name.  If a domain owner appears to have no legitimate rights to the domain name and is attempting to pass themselves off as another entity or hold the domain name ransom, there is opportunity to dispute the ownership through the domain name dispute resolution process.  The process varies depending on the type of domain name.  The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has set rules for dispute resolutions involving domain names ending with “dot CA”.  The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has set rules and assigned services providers for dispute resolutions involving other generic top-level domains (ie .com, .net) and country code top-level domains (ie .ca, .uk). 

For more information on Domain Names, contact a trademark agent.

Trade Secrets

Unlike a Patent, a Trade Secret is a type of Intellectual Property which does not require registration.  A Trade Secret consists of commercial and/or technical information which is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the owner.  A Trade Secret typically consists of a formula, pattern, device or compilation of information which is used in the trade secret owner’s business and which gives the owner an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know the trade secret.  A Trade Secret may be a formula, recipe, a process of manufacturing, treating or preserving materials, a pattern for a machine or even a list of customers.  Matters which are generally known or commonly known to the trade in which the trade secret owner is engaged cannot be protected as a trade secret.  If a trade secret has in fact been maintained as secret, a trade secret owner may be able to recover damages for another’s possession and use of the trade secret.

For more information on Trade Secrets, contact a lawyer.