Stand out from your competitors (Page 1 of 4)


Your intellectual property (IP) is one of your most valuable business assets. When used strategically in your business, it can increase your competitiveness and allow you to reap numerous benefits. But before you go any further, it is crucial you understand what IP really is. This booklet will introduce you to the basic principles of the Canadian IP system, administered for the most part by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), and will show you how IP can become your best ally when integrated into your business.

Intellectual property: What does it really mean?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to the creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names, pictures, designs and models used in business. Patents, trademarks, copyright, industrial designs, integrated circuit topographies and plant breeders' rights are referred to as "IP rights." Just as rights are acquired when a building or land is purchased, IP rights are "property" in the sense that they are based on the legal right to exclude others from using the property. Ownership of the rights can also be transferred.

IP surrounds us, whether we are at home, at school or at work. New products, brands and creative designs appear almost daily in the marketplace and are the result of ongoing innovation and creativity. Various forms of IP are with us every day — think of that new sophisticated mattress, your alarm clock, your favourite brand or book, or the latest innovative product.

You may discover, while reading this booklet, that you might own a significant number of valuable IP assets; it may be the name of your company, your client listing, your annual report or research paper, your logo or graphic image, or the visual appearance of your product.

Having identified your IP assets, you can start putting in place strategies to safeguard them and prevent others from diminishing your competitive advantage. By learning how to exploit the wealth of strategic information contained in various IP databases, whether they are Canadian or international, you can give your business a competitive edge and really stand out from others.

We suggest you seek more information from our office, from your business advisor, or an IP expert, such as a patent or trademark agent or lawyer, before acting on any information contained in this publication.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office: The essence of what we do

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), a special operating agency of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, is mainly responsible for the administration of the IP system in Canada. Details regarding each type of protection covered under this formal IP system are provided throughout this booklet.

CIPO encourages invention, innovation and creativity in Canada; fosters the use of the IP system and the exploitation of IP information; and promotes Canada's international IP interests.

CIPO's Client Service Centre (CSC) is one of the central points of entry for all general enquiries. It also handles client requests for printed publications. The CSC plays a critical role in disseminating valuable IP information and provides the following services:

CIPO's website is a preferred means for clients to acquire the information they need to make sound business decisions.

The site contains a vast array of resources such as information guides, frequently asked questions, publications, electronic services, as well as a collection of domestic and international links. You can also access our Canadian patent, trademark and copyright databases which, as you will discover, offer a wealth of information.

The Canadian IP system at a glance




Industrial designs

Integrated circuit topographies

Plant breeders' rights

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