Simplified Comparison of Intellectual Properties


Type of Protection Patent Industrial Design Trade mark Copyright
What is Protected? Functional features of process, machine, manufactured item or composition of matter. Ornamental designs for articles of manufacture. Words, names, symbols, or logos. Writings, photos, music, works of art, computer programs.
Criteria for Protection? Useful, new and unobvious. New and original. Used to identify and distinguish goods or services. Originality.
How Obtain Rights? Registration at Patent Office. Registration at Industrial Designs Office. Common Law – local reputation

Registration – national protection.

Automatic upon creation. Registration at Copyright Office recommended.
Term of Protection? 20 years from date of filing of application. 5 years from registration – renewable for additional 5 years Common Law – indefinitely

Registration – renewable terms of 15 years.

Generally life of author plus 50 years.
Test of Infringement? Making, using or selling devices embodying the claimed invention? Designs look alike to ordinary observer? Likelihood of confusion? Substantial portion copied?

CAVEAT: This chart provides an over-simplified comparison. Many of the words used above are terms of legal art and the subject of judicial interpretation.

Type of Protection Trade Secret Plants Chips
What is Protected? Technical secrets, customer lists Propagating materials for a prescribed category Chip topography/mask works
Criteria for Protection? Generally not known to the public New, stable, uniform, distinct Original
How Obtain Rights? Maintenance of secrecy Registration at Agriculture Canada Registration at Copyright Office
Term of Protection? Indefinitely until disclosure or independent discovery that becomes public 18 years from registration 10 years from the earlier of the first commercial exploitation or date of filing of application
Test of Infringement? Theft Sell or produce protected variety Substantial portion reproduced

Note. “utility patent” (e.g. US) vs. “utility model” (e.g. Japan, Korea)

For assistance, please contact Neil Melliship or Brock Smith.