Having an innovative idea in a “make anything happen” world can be your road to creating a wildly successful business. 

The thought alone is a piece of property that is considered intellectual property in Canada and comes with protection laws attached to it. Ideas are pieces of property that, with the right care, can turn a dream into a profitable reality. 

However, intellectual property is something that requires legal protection in order to avoid theft. Have you ever wondered what the different categories of intellectual property are and how they are protected in Canada? 

Here are some differences between the types of Intellectual Property laws in Canada



Canada’s copyright law gives a creator the exclusive right to produce or reproduce work in any form. This can include paragraphs in a literary piece to an original painting. It protects literary, artistic dramatic or musical works and other subject matter performed by the creator. 


Patents protect an individual’s inventions including innovative processes, machines, technology, products and innovations made to existing inventions. This stops other people from reproducing, using or selling your idea. The government protects your patent for 20 years, and patents are only granted to the first applicant. 


Trademarks protect a combination of words, letters, sounds, or designs that distinguish your business products or services from others in the market. Over time, these trademarks may come to represent your businesses’ reputation as well. Although trademarks don’t need to be registered, it can be a lot easier to stop other businesses from using your trademark if it is registered. 

Industrial Designs

Industrial design law protects a design’s appearance including shape, colour, pattern or a combination of elements applied to a specific piece of work. Designs such as bottle shapes, for example, or elements that make your design indistinguishable against another designer’s work. This license, once obtained, is available to sell to others to make, use and sell your design. 

Trade Secrets

A trade secret is a piece of information that is exclusive to one business and is not known by the public or competitors. This can include a client list, ingredient list, or logistics process. Businesses must take all measures possible to ensure that the information remains a secret which can be secured through non disclosure agreements, confidentiality clauses and password protection. 


Why work with a small business lawyer to protect your intellectual property?

While it isn’t required to work with a lawyer to register your intellectual property, it will invariably produce better results. A small business lawyer will also be able to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else’s property. In exchange, your business lawyer will be able to help you if a competitor infringes on your intellectual property, and has the knowledge to protect you against a claim of stolen intellectual property. 


Saw a great piece of work that you want to use in your business? Here are 5 ways to avoid intellectual property infringement.