Trademarks, Patents, & Copyrights

A trademark is a logo or a name used a merchant or vendor to denote the quality of the vendor’s goods or services.  The right to use a trade name or logo at common law comes exclusively from the use of that trade name or logo with a given product or service in a given market.  Any attempt by a third party to use a logo or name which is confusingly similar to another name or logo used with a similar product or service in a similar market give rise to an action in damages (known as “passing off”) by the owner of the name or logo.  The ownership of a trademark (name or logo) may be confirmed by formal proceedings under the Trade-marks Act, giving owner of a registered trademark a renewable right to use that trademark for 17 years.

A patent is the registration of a unique and useful process (not just an idea), which gives the owner of the patent the exclusive right to use the patented process for a period of 15 years after which the unique process becomes part of the public domain and can be used by anyone.

A copyright is the right of a person in a work of art literary work, a movie or a song.  Copyright exists in any work whether registered or not, but registration indicates to the world that the registered owner intends to defend his right of ownership against anyone breaching that right.  Unlike a trademark, there is no adjudication prior to the registration of a copyright; the owner of the copyright simply files his claim as a copyright owner.

Whenever a person has a claim to intellectual property (including a trademark, patent or copyright), it is strongly recommended that such right be registered in order to obtain the advantages of the greater protection available by law.

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