Intellectual Property

Five types of intellectual property (IP) are protected by statute in Canada. These include: copyrights, industrial designs, trade-marks, patents, and integrated circuit topographies. Each is governed by its own statute and regulations. Registrations are handled by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

The Copyright Act protects artistic, dramatic, musical and literary works (computer programs are classified as literary works) as well as performances, sound recordings and communication signals. Each of these subject matters are defined in the Copyright Act. Protection, in general, is the life of the author plus 50 years. More detail on copyright may be viewed on the following page of this website: Copyright.

The Industrial Design Act protect various visual elements, such as shape, configuration, pattern and/or decoration which in a finished article appeal to and are judged only by its visible attributes. There can appear to be some overlap between the legislation applicable to copyright and industrial design. An important distinction is that an industrial design is intended to be used as a model or pattern to be multiplied by an industrial process and used for the manufactured by hand, tool or machine in more than 50 articles. Protection, in general, is 10 years from the date of registration.


The Trade-marks Act protect words or marks that identify the goods or services associated with a particular individual. Protection for the exclusive use of a trade-mark, in general, is 15 years from registration.  More detail on trade-marks may be viewed on the following page of this website: Trade-marks.

The Patent Act protects inventions which are new, useful and unobvious methods,  machines, articles and compositions. Protection for the exclusive use of a patent is, in general, 20 years from the date of application for registration.

The Integrated Circuit Topography Act protects three dimensional configurations of electrical materials on a substrate which form all or part of an integrated circuit product.  An integrated circuit product is a product,  or Integrated Circuit Topography (ICT) which performs an electronic function and in which at least one element of the circuit is active. Protection for the exclusive use of a registered ICT is,  in general, 10 years from the earlier of the date of application for registration, or first commercial use of the ICT.