How do you protect an innovation?October 13th, 2017
Protecting innovations is an important issue for SMEs. Different mechanisms exist. They can make a significant difference to the future and value of a business.
This is the opening sentence in an article by Nathalie Côté of La Presse in a special report on innovations within SMEs. Click here to read the text.
BCF patent agent and partner Julien Lacheré stated at the outset that the patent application process is complex and must be done strategically. An invention must be patented in each country in which it is to be protected. “You can apply for an international patent, explained Julien Lacheré, a patent agent with BCF Business Law. This does not mean you’ll be granted a patent in every country, but it guarantees your priority to do so during 30 months,” he noted.
In addition to trade secrets, there are other strategies to protect an innovation. “Copyright is automatic, without having to file an application, explained Dominique Babin, a partner at BCF. It protects original works, such as software for example. You can also protect an invention through trademark if it increases in value due to its mark. The classic example is Coca-Cola.”
Businesses often work on similar innovations simultaneously. All is not lost if another business files a patent application first. “If you can identify potentially problematic patents during the product development, you can analyze them and modify the product to circumvent them,” observed Julien Lacheré. If not, you can try to invalidate the patent or negotiate with the holder to obtain a license.
Carefully negotiate your contract
Poorly drafted contracts can lead to confusion. “Contrary to the United States, a consultant’s work in Canada does not belong to the hiring company,” noted Ms. Babin. A business can therefore find itself co-owner of a patent along with its consultant.
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