Intellectual Property

Commercialization of Intellectual Property

The University of Windsor views the commercialization of intellectual property developed at the University benefiting the university and the community at large and will do whatever it can to support this commercialization. The University of Windsor has an inventor-owned policy. In accordance with Article 34 of the Faculty Association Collective Agreement, the inventor must disclose to the Office of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation in writing any filed invention and/or patent application. The inventor shall have the right to determine if they wish to seek the assistance of the University of Windsor in relation to obtaining intellectual property protection and/or further commercialization.

Intellectual Property - Technology Transfer Related Decision Tree (preliminary version) outlining the stages of the Intellectual Property - Technology Transfer process.

Methods of Preserving Intellectual Property

  1. Secret (Trade Secret/Confidential Information)
  2. Patent (Process Patent)
  3. Plant Breeders’ Rights Act/Plant Protection Act
  4. Integrated Circuit Topographies Act (Mask Works Protection)
  5. Copyright
  6. Industrial Design
  7. Trademark  

For further information about the methods of preserving intellectual property, please visit Canadian Intellectual Property Office or call the Office of Research and Innovation Services. 

ORIS Primary Contact

Vesna Kaps
Contract/Technology Transfer Manager
519-253-3000 ext. 3922

A copyright is a set of legal rights that allow an author to control the dissemination and reproduction of his/her original literary, artistic, musical and/or dramatic work. A work is protected when it is fixed in a medium, from letters, books and papers to CDs, DVDs, databases, and internet postings.

Copyright protects the expression of an idea and not the idea itself. There are two aspects of copyright: legal rights and moral rights. Legal rights are the rights to control, copy, disseminate and sell a work. Moral rights are rights of attribution and integrity of a work, and extend beyond a sale or assignment. Under Canadian copyright law, moral rights can be waived in full or in part, but cannot be sold or transferred. 

In general, a work mentioned above is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. In some jurisdictions, registration is necessary and allows for copyright holders to access full remedies for infringement. In Canada, a copyright does not have to be registered for it to be protected, but may be.

Moral rights for Canada and the U.S. last for the term of the copyright. In Canada, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus fifty (50) years; however, if it is a sound recording and/or musical performance, the protection is for seventy (70) years. If the work is created anonymously, or under a pseudonym, the term is fifty (50) years after publication or seventyfive (75) years after creation, whichever is shorter. HOWEVER, if the identity of the author were to become known, the normal protection term would apply. In the U.S., it is life of the author plus 75 years. If a work is created by a corporation, under a pseudonym or anonymously, protection lasts for ninety-five (95) years from the date of publication or one hundred twenty (120) years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter. 

The industrial design is the aesthetic appearance of an article. The visual appearance or any design that is incorporated into a product may be protected by this Act. The appearance of the iPod and the design of a Coke bottle are examples of registered industrial designs. Protection is 10 years from the date of registration. However, a maintenance fee must be paid at 5 years and 6 months. If not paid, then the protection will cease. 

A form of intellectual property is designed to specifically protect Mask Works and Integrated Circuits in the U.S. and Canada. A Mask Work is similar to a photo negative that is used to produce the designed electronic circuit on a semiconductor chip. Integrated circuit topography is the actual 3-D detail of the active structures inside a semiconductor chip, and is the end result of a Mask Work.

In both Canada and the U.S., the term of protection begins on either the date that Mask Work is registered, or the date that the Mask Work is first commercially exploited ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, whichever is earlier. The term ends on December 31 of the tenth year after the earlier of the two dates above. In Canada, the Integrated Circuit Topography Act, and in the U.S., the Semiconductor Protection Act of 1984, are each administered by their respective Copyright Office.

A patent provides the legal right to exclude others from making or using an invention/discovery. It can last for 20 years and it is country specific. The decision of where to patent depends on the market and the costs involved. To be patentable the invention must satisfy three requirements:

  1. It must be non-obvious and novel;
  2. It must have a utility; and
  3. The subject matter must be appropriate. For example: genetically modified organs, professional skill, and abstract scientific theorems are not patentable. 

If you disclose without protection of a patent you may have ended any future patent rights. Patent eligibility varies among countries and timing is everything. Keep the following points in mind: keep all results and information confidential to the inventors until you have decided whether or not you wish to patent your invention/discovery. Under new patent law reforms, once you have disclosed your invention it becomes public domain.

Public disclosure is any disclosure where the receiving party has not agreed to maintain the information as confidential which includes: publishing the details of an invention in a peer reviewed journal, presentation of the invention at a conference or speech. In Canada, applying for government funding is not a public disclosure, whereas in the U.S., it is considered as such. 

Plant Breeders Rights area is a grant of rights, similar to a patent, designed to specifically protect new plant varieties. In Canada, plant variety protection is covered by the Plant Breeders Rights Act and in the U.S. by the Plant Variety Protection Act for sexually reproducing plants and the Plant Patent Act of 1930 for asexually reproducing plants.

In Canada, the duration of the grant of rights is 18 years from the date the rights certificate is issued. In the US, for tuber propagated variety, the term is 20 years from the date the rights certificate is issued. For a tree or vine, the term of protection is 25 years.

A trademark is a mark or symbol, word or phrase, or a combination of symbols, words, or phrases that is used to distinguish the source of goods or services as belonging to one party from those of others. Registered trademarks obtain nationwide protection for 15 years, which is renewable. This requires registration with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Unregistered trademarks are trademarks that are not registered, yet through use they have the local ability to distinguish a certain product or service as those from a particular party. These trademark rights may only be enforced in the geographical area where they have developed their distinctiveness. However, such trademark rights will not likely be upheld against a registered trademark. Trademarks must be in use in the public domain to be enforceable.