Intellectual property in Canada is governed under several pieces of federal legislation, including The Trade-marks Act and The Copyright Act.


  • A trade-mark is a word, symbol or design (or a combination of these) that is used to distinguish the wares or services of a person or organization from those of others in the marketplace.
  • A Canadian trade-mark registration can often be obtained within 20 to 24 months of filing and gives the registrant the exclusive right to use the mark across Canada. As a result of upcoming amendments to the Trade-marks Act, registrations will be valid for a period of 10 years, with renewal for successive 10-year periods on payment of renewal fees.


  • Copyright subsists in all original literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, including computer programs, provided that the author is a citizen or resident of a treaty country or the work, if published, was first published in a treaty country. Copyright gives the owner the sole right to produce or reproduce a work, or a substantial part of it, in any form.
  • While copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years, the Canadian government has considered extending this term to 70 years.
  • Registration, while not necessary, provides certain presumptions that are useful if the copyright is litigated and prevents any person from relying on the defence of “innocent infringement” (i.e., where the infringer did not know and had no reason to suspect that copyright existed in the work). If there is no registration, an infringer who successfully proves the defence of innocent infringement could be prohibited from further copying but would not be liable for damages.