Alberta business owners may not realize that they have intellectual property that needs to be protected. Intellectual property is not limited to just inventions and creations. It may also include designs, names, symbols and more.
There are five main types of intellectual property. Many people are familiar with the idea that items that fall under copyright protection or inventions that can be patented are intellectual property. Trademarks that exclusively identify a company may consist of words, symbols or designs. Less familiar to some people as potential intellectual property are industrial designs and circuit design.
Business owners must think about protecting intellectual property abroad as well as at home. For countries that share treaties or conventions with Canada, demonstrating protection in Canada may be sufficient. However, there may be additional steps, and for countries that do not share such treaties, it is important that businesses fully understand the laws relating to intellectual property. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office can provide information on protection of rights within Canada.
Protection of intellectual property generally falls under the umbrella of business and commercial law, and companies may want to work with a lawyer to ensure that their intellectual property is protected. They may also want to consult a lawyer if they feel their intellectual property has been misused. While this might be easier to do if the property has been properly registered for protection in the first place, a company still may have protection. For example, if a company has produced a series of brochures on a topic, the text is usually protected by copyright even if the company did not formally register. Doing so adds additional protection, but even without it, the company still may have a valid claim against another individual or business using its material.