Intellectual property can be the most valuable asset of a commercializing life sciences firm. Intellectual property rights is an emerging issue in the life sciences, which involves many sectors of society, including government, business, and consumer groups.
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Intellectual Property Information Sources
- Intellectual Property Acts
- Intellectual Property Agents/Lawyers
Intellectual property rights vary from country to country. In Canada, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is responsible for administering Canada's intellectual property system. The following table lists Canadian definitions and provisions. Of these, patent law is the most important to firms in life sciences due to the unique nature of their inventions.
|Form of Protection||Description and Criteria|
|Source: Canadian Intellectual Property Office|
A patent excludes others from making, using, or selling an invention for up to 20 years after the filing date. Patents cover new inventions (processes, machines, manufactures, composition of matter) or useful improvements on existing inventions only.
Three Basic Criteria:
The core asset behind the brand value of a product, service or process. A trademark is a distinguishable mark, which can be in the form of a word(s) (i.e., the word Prozactm is a trademark), symbol(s) such as a company logo, or a design, which can involve a unique colour scheme or inventive packaging, etc. A trademark is valid for 15 years, but can be renewed indefinitely.
Six Basic Criteria:
A copyright provides the creator or owner of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work to the exclusive right to copy the work in question, typically for the life of the creator plus 50 years.
Three Basic Criteria:
An industrial design refers to the protection of original physical features of a product, such as shape, configuration, pattern, or ornament (or any combination of these), for a period of five years (renewable once, for a second five years).
|Integrated Circuit Topographies||
The three-dimensional configuration of microchips which embody semiconductor integrated circuits can be registered and protected for up to 10 years.
Non-disclosure agreements are particularly useful in situations where confidential information is being shared with a third party, including the distribution of a business plan to venture capitalists, or the licensing of a life sciences product to a large corporation.
A signed acknowledgment by the recipient of information that the information is owned by someone else and cannot be disclosed to a third party, nor can it be exploited by the recipient for personal gain. Non-disclosure agreements are particularly important when sharing results from a scientific breakthrough with another party. They are often used to prevent former employees from sharing information with competitors.
- Must be a signed, legal document.
Intellectual Property Information Sources
The following links provide Canadian and international sources of intellectual property information.
Learn more about International Intellectual Property Rights.top of page
Intellectual Property Acts
- Patent Act
- Trade-marks Act
- Plant Breeder's Rights Act
- Copyright Act
- Industrial Design Act
- Integrated Circuit Topography Act
Intellectual Property Agents/Lawyers
Many professional services firms in Canada provide intellectual property assistance to commercializing firms in the life sciences sector. Some of these firms can be found via the Canadian Company Capabilities database. Also, PATSCAN provides a list of intellectual property lawyers by province.
Please visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for a full list of patent agents by province.top of page
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