Protecting your business may seem more complicated these days than it was for past generations. It was not long ago when a business owner could lock the front door of their building and feel confident that the business was safe from thieves. In modern businesses, however, there are more factors to consider than just tangible assets.
You may sell a product or service, and you certainly want to keep safe the items you sell and the equipment you use. Losing products or tools to thieves may cost your business money and other resources you cannot afford. However, if your product or service is the result of your original innovation or invention, you may have even more to defend. You may want to learn the best way to protect your intellectual property.
Different rights for different assets
Without having the proper safeguards in place, your intellectual property may be at the mercy of anyone who wishes to use it for their own profit. If other business entities obtain the plans or other relevant information about your unprotected product or process, they may offer it to the public – drawing customers and profit away from you and your business.
Fortunately, the Canadian government provides ways for you to protect your rights to your intellectual property and provide recourse for you to intervene if someone steals your work.
For example, if you have developed a new process or technology or if you have created a unique improvement to an existing product, you can protect your invention or innovation with a patent. In Canada, a patent gives you exclusive rights to your product, process, machine or other technology for 20 years. The public will have the right to view your patent application 18 months after you submit it. Protections for other kinds of intellectual property include the following:
- Copyright: protects your exclusive right to publish, perform, produce or use a work such as art, music, recordings, lectures or similar items
- Trademark: protects your business’s unique design, words, letters, sounds or other distinguishing representations of your brand
- Industrial design registration: protects the pattern, ornamentation, shape or other visual features of your product
If your business has trade secrets, these can be more difficult to protect. However, a skilled lawyer can provide you with options and advice for minimizing opportunities for others to take advantage of your secrets. In fact, a legal professional can provide you with information and guidance for protecting all your intellectual property.