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How to get a patent in Canada and protect your business idea

(Photo Credit:iStock.com)

The Dragons encounter plenty of products in the Den. Most of these are physical — products you can hold and touch. Arguably the most highly valued, however, are those that are intangible — that is, products of the mind, or intellectual property.

Would-be investors who like your product will want to know whether the piece of knowledge assets has all the right legislative protections covering it. In other words, do you really own your idea?

In the business world, artistic works are covered by copyrights. Logos and branding marks have trademarks. In Canada, patents are granted by the federal government for inventions and offer exclusive rights for new or useful inventions. 

Patent how-to

According to the government’s Canadian Intellectual Property Office, an invention defined as “patentable” must satisfy three requirements:

  • Novelty (Is it the first of its kind?)
  • Utility (Does it actually work, and does it prove useful?)
  • Ingenuity (Is this a non-obvious improvement or development?)

Canada has a so-called “first to file” system, which essentially makes it so inventors are required to race to the patent office to file their applications, lest someone beat them to the punch.

Strict rules apply to preparing a patent application, though the government’s IP office offers tutorials. An abstract or summary must be included, as well as specification that describes the idea in more detail. Detailed drawings or schematics are often desirable  as well.

A typical filing fee is around $8,000, though more complicated inventions can involve steeper fees into the $15,000 range. Once granted, the patent owner has exclusive rights to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention for 20 years from the filing date.

Beyond Canada

There are geographic limitations to this, though.

Patent rights in Canada only protect the inventor’s rights in that country. One way around this is to pay an additional filing fee, usually around $5,000, to obtain a Patent Cooperation Treaty, which functions like an international application to protect an invention for about 148 countries all at once.

Original ideas are a hot commodity in the Den, so aspiring entrepreneurs are strongly encouraged to seek legal advice from an intellectual property lawyer before appearing on television to share their inventions with the world. Patent rights protect ingenuity and must be carefully considered.

For more information on patent protection, infringement and for how-tos on filing applications, visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

This article was originally published May 1, 2015.