The University of Windsor highly values research and collaboration and has an inventor-owned Intellectual Property (IP) policy. As per Article 34, 35 and 36 of the Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA) Collective Agreement, all researchers are required to disclose any new technology and/or patent application(s) to the Research Partnerships Office. Inventors can determine if they wish to seek the assistance of the University of Windsor to obtain IP protection and/or further commercialization of their research. All IP developed at the University of Windsor can be used for non-commercial research and educational purposes.
Before securing IP protection, avoid any disclosures of IP or information pertaining to the concepts, and hold all persons involved with the development of the IP to secrecy. Disclosures include anything publically available in written or oral format such as interviews, journal articles, conferences, speeches, defended thesis dissertations etc. Any disclosures at this stage should only be done under a Non‑disclosure Agreement (NDA). Public disclosure at this stage could inhibit the ability to protect any patentable rights regarding IP. Also many funding programs have their own rules regarding ownership of IP, and these rules should also be taken into consideration when purusing IP protection.
Methods of Preserving Intellectual Property
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 right 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 beneficial.
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 seventy (70) years.
Visit the Leddy Library for more information on copyright, or visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office - Copyright webpage.
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 IP 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:
- It must be non-obvious and novel;
- It must have a utility; and
- The subject matter must be appropriate. For example: genetically modified organs, professional skills, and abstract scientific theorems are not patentable.
If you disclose without the 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 10 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.
Please visit the University of Windsor - Legal Services for assistance with trademarks.