By Sabrina Sandhu, MD FRCPC
JD Candidate 2023 (University of Calgary)
Anesthesiologist and Pain Medicine Physician
Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Anesthesiology, Preoperative and Pain Medicine
University of Calgary
This blog is about protecting what might be the highest valued asset in your company – the Intellectual Property. Intellectual property rights can confer many benefits to a business. If your idea is one of the first to market, the longer you can protect it from the competition, the more of the market share you will garner.
Greater Market Share = Greater Profits
Taking the appropriate legal steps to protect your intellectual property adds barriers to entry for your competition. While you are further refining your product/service, expanding your brand, establishing a loyal client base, your competition is merely trying to find a way in. Having legal protections allows you to benefit from the intellectual property and preventing others from taking value from it.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property can take many forms. Although it's an intangible asset, intellectual property can be far more valuable than a company's physical assets. Examples include names, designs, logos, slogans, and images.
What are different types of Intellectual Property protections?
Common intellectual property protections include copyright, patents, trade secrets, and trademarks. The author of a work generally owns the copyright to it. The inventor of an invention generally owns the interest in it and can patent it.
In general, copyright covers the rights to protect and profit from any original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work. An “original” work means that it has not been copied from another work, and has been created through some exercise of the author’s skill and judgement. Copyright protects ideas when expressed in works, but does not protect ideas on their own. Copyright includes the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or any substantial part of it, and the right to publish an unpublished work or any substantial part of it.
Having patents for your business’s innovations can increase the value of your company, since they provide you (or your investors/partners) with the ability to control the use of your software, which can make your business more attractive as a potential investment. To be protected, an “invention” must be a “new and useful art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement in any art, process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter”. The subject matter of an invention must be non-obvious to a person skilled in the art or science related to the patent.
(c) Trade Secrets
Trade secrets are valuable information of a business where the value comes from the information’s secret nature. These include methods, processes, or research and analysis data. Unlike patents, copyrights, and trademarks, trade secrets do not have formal statutory protection. Trade secret protection requires that a business keep the information secret and take measures to protect its secrecy.
Trademarks are signs that distinguish a company’s goods and services. Holders of registered trademarks have exclusive rights to use the mark, and prevent others from making, selling, or advertising any goods or services under the trademark or a confusing trademark or name.
If you have an idea that you are considering protecting, please contact the Business Venture Clinic for additional information.
 Copyright Act RSC 1985, c C-42, s 5(1)(a).
 CCH Canadian Ltd v Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13 at para 25.
 Ibid at para 8.
 Copyright Act RSC 1985, c C-42, s 3.
 Patent Act RSC 1985, c P-4, s 2.
 Patent Act RSC 1985, c P-4, s 28.3.
 CIPO, “What is a trade secret?” (last modified 01 December 2015), online: Government of Canada <https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr03987.html>.
 CIPO, “Trade Secrets” (last modified 10 July 2020), online: Government of Canada <https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr04318.html>.
 CIPO, “Trademarks guide” (last modified 14 June 2019), online: Government of Canada, <https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr02360.html?Open&wt_src=cipo-tm-main&wt_cxt=learn>; Trademarks Act, RSC 1985, c T-13, s 2.
 Trademarks Act, RSC 1985, c T-13, ss 19-20.
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Blog posts are by students at the Business Venture Clinic. Student bios appear under each post.