Intellectual Property Insurance – Are Your Patents Covered?
Intellectual property refers to the many intangible assets of a business, such as patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. Unlike products, property or bricks and mortar, intellectual property assets are often an organization’s most valuable and least understood assets. While the intention of this overview is to provide a basic understanding of intellectual property, it should not be considered legal advice in anyway.
What Are Key Criteria For Patent Protection?
A patent is a legal protection granted by the federal government to an inventor to encourage progress and prevent others from benefiting from the invention. Patents cover inventions new to the marketplace or improvements on existing inventions.
The three basic criteria that an invention must meet in order to be patentable in Canada are novelty, utility and ingenuity. More specifically, these terms mean that:
- An invention is novel if it is the first of its kind in the world.
- Utility is established if an invention has a useful and functional purpose.
- An invention’s ingenuity is demonstrated if it represents something new to an industry that is not already available and readily apparent to someone who is skilled in that industry.
How Does A Patent Protect Your Intellectual Property?
Patent protection involves the right to exclude others from making, using or selling anything that would fall under the claims of the issued patent. Canadian patents have a maximum lifespan of 20 years from the date that the patent application is filed. You can learn more about the requirements for filing patent applications in Canada by visiting the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
What About Patent Infringement?
To determine whether a patent has been infringed, the court will examine the claims of the patent and compare them to the invention or evaluate the validity of the patent. This process may be more complex in situations where the claims terms are unclear or ambiguous.
Related matters: Intellectual Property Coverage: Are You Naked?
The court can determine that infringement exists even if the invention isn’t identical to the original. If the device performs substantially the same function in largely the same way to produce substantially identical results, a court may find infringement.
What Are Your Rights?
You may file a lawsuit for damages in the appropriate court to enforce your patent against an infringer. If you are successful, there are many possible outcomes. Courts have the authority to compensate the patent holder for losses associated with the infringement.
Intellectual Property Insurance 101
Intellectual property including patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets may be integral parts of your business. It is vital that you understand the laws associated with these concepts to protect your intellectual property. You also need to ensure that your behaviour does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property. This piece is not exhaustive and should be read as an overview. For more information, consult legal counsel.