Exporting? Protect your intellectual property
If you export your products or services, remember that your intellectual property may be exposed to unauthorized use in markets beyond your control. Your intellectual property (IP) needs protection because it consists of your creative ideas and designs of a commercial value. In general, your IP is only protected in Canada, so it's wise to safeguard it in the countries to which you export. For example, if you want to market your new citrus juicer overseas, it makes sense to protect its design, the logo you worked so hard on and the snappy name that stays in consumers' minds.
What role does IP play in your business? Does it provide the competitive edge that makes your business successful?
- If you have assets such as patents, trade-marks, copyrights, industrial designs or integrated circuit topographies, preventing any unauthorized use or copying should be a priority.
- Before registering your IP, find out how you can protect it both at home and abroad. How long is the duration of the protection?
- Do you need to change any trade-marks or logos before breaking into new markets? Is there anything similar available in your target country?
There are IP protection treaties that have been signed by Canada. These, along with international registration systems provided by the World Intellectual Property Organization, could help you register more easily, if necessary, in other countries. The more research you do, the better protected your IP will be.
- What are the regulations regarding intellectual property in the foreign markets you are targeting?
- Using IP databases to do trade-mark, patent and other classification searches may help you find new markets and get to know the competition.
- You might also learn if you are infringing anyone else's intellectual property.
Expert advice from IP professionals such as registered patent or trade-mark agents or specialized lawyers is always useful. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office is a good starting point for your research; try Intellectual Property for Exporting Businesses, an online, step-by-step guide.
As you further explore international regulations, the World Intellectual Property Organization can provide valuable information. Of particular interest may be Secrets of Intellectual Property: A Guide for Small and Medium-sized Exporters.