The three most common types of intellectual property protection are patents, trademarks and copyrights. They are quite different and have different purposes. It is important to know what kind of protection you really want and need before beginning any of the processes.
Patents protect new inventions and useful improvements to existing inventions. Patents can cover physical items such as a machine or product, and can also cover a new process. You must apply to the government for a patent, and if granted it will give you 20 years of protection in Canada. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a patent agent as soon as possible in the process. It is very easy to lose your patent rights if you don’t follow the right process, and the application process is complex and technical.
Trademarks include any word, name, symbol, sound or design, or any combination of these, that is used commercially to distinguish the goods or services of an individual or business from those of others. It often indicates the source of the goods or services.
Copyrights protect literary, artistic and musical works, and have also been extended to protect computer programs. They protect both published and unpublished works.