Canadian Plastics

Is your idea worth a patent?

Patents, copyrights, trademarks, know-how and trade secrets are often collectively referred to as intellectual property. The value of intellectual property protection, says Dave Tyrrell, president of ...

August 1, 1999   Canadian Plastics



Patents, copyrights, trademarks, know-how and trade secrets are often collectively referred to as intellectual property. The value of intellectual property protection, says Dave Tyrrell, president of Vertex Intellectual Property Strategies, lies in its ability to exclude competitors from using your intellectual property.

To determine if your product or idea is worthy of a patent, balance the benefits of the exclusive right to manufacture, use and sell the product against $5,000 or more per country for a patent, as well as the potential future expenses of defending the patent, advises Tyrrell.

“Patents are granted for new, first-in-the-world technologies which are functional and operative, and which demonstrate inventive ingenuity not obvious to someone trained in the field,” explains Vertex literature.

Through a patent, the government provides an inventor with the right to exclude others from making, using or selling his/her invention. This exclusivity could be a marketing advantage, and generally discourages competitors from copying your idea. In addition, a patent may create licensing opportunities.

The process of acquiring and maintaining a patent can typically cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 or more for each country. A large portion of that cost is associated with legal advice needed to prepare an effective patent.

Tyrrell suggests trademarks and industrial design registration as alternatives that provide limited protection to your intellectual property. A trademark doesn’t inhibit copying, but does protect your brand name and lets you build an image and reputation based on that name.

Industrial design registration applies to products that are not able to be patented because the idea is not novel, but the execution may be. For example, your basic resin patio chair is not a unique idea, but the design of a particular chair, including shape, pattern and ornamentation may be protected by registering the design.

“Businesses which effectively foster innovation and new technology development, and which have a system to deal with all aspects of intellectual property management, will have competitive business advantage and be positioned to grow and prosper,” says Tyrrell. “Identification of diversified applications for existing technologies can also create new sources of earnings.”

If you want to delve further into these topics, Vertex has a website (www.vertexips.com) with articles concerning intellectual property management and links to other intellectual property sites.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office site can be accessed at strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrksv/cipo


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