The Value of Intellectual Property: Key Takeaways from WTCW’s Webinar Mar 28, 2024

In today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, understanding the fundamentals of Intellectual Property (IP) is not just advantageous—it’s essential for any entrepreneur looking to safeguard their innovations and navigate the complexities of the business world. The World Trade Centre Winnipeg (WTCW) recently hosted a comprehensive webinar, led by the expert lawyer Silvia de Sousa of TDS Law, designed to demystify the complexities of IP law and offer actionable insights for businesses.

Silvia de Sousa shared her extensive experience, noting the shift in perception and understanding of IP over the years. “When I started many moons ago, it was hard to convince people to spend money even on a trademark filing, and I think at that time, because there was not the education or the knowledge of what IP was, unlike now, when there is a lot of education. The big point that you need to take away is that business assets are changing. In the old days when I started practicing, the key assets were physical, tangible assets like buildings, lands, and inventory… but currently, that’s not the case, and now there are a lot of statistics out there that show that the value of a business is within their intangible assets, and IP is an intangible asset,” explained de Sousa.

The webinar, spanning an hour, was a deep dive into the essence of IP as a valuable asset, structured around four critical pillars: Identification, Protection, Ownership, and Monetization & Commercialization of Intellectual Property. Additionally, it covered the Elevate IP program, an initiative by the Canadian government to support IP development.

These are the most common types of IP that can help entrepreneurs in their identification process:

Trademarks: As soon as you sell a service or good with a “TM” logo on it, it is protected by Common Law, but only in the province where it was created. An example of a well-known trademark is Google, which is valued at approximately 33 billion dollars.

Patents: Inventions such as devices, process, or product can be protected if they meet the criteria for patentability.

Industrial Designs: It protects the aesthetics of an item. An example of industrial design protection is the Apple phone shape and its icons.

Copyrights: Software codes or a design of a logo, videos, and photographs are IP copyrights. If you create something it is protected automatically.

Trade Secrets: It protects confidential business information that provides a competitive edge to your business such as recipes, formulas, and processes. The trade secret needs to be registered before speaking about or showing it to someone.

Domain Names: A first-come, first-served basis makes securing your desired domain names crucial. Sousa’s advice to all entrepreneurs is to buy all of their potential domains (.com, .ca, .org, .net) and lock them in right away. This is something that can be done on their own and is not very expensive or hard to do.

Social Media Handles: Entrepreneurs need to secure handles across platforms early on, even if they don’t plan immediate use.

Data: Owning both the input and output data is vital for maintaining control over your digital assets. A good example is smart watches that own exercise time data, both when it is recorded and when it is shown in a fitness app. A current example of a company not doing it properly is ChatGPT, as they only own the data coming out, not the raw data going in.

Identifying valuable IP independently or with professional guidance from firms like TDS Law is the first step, followed by protecting, owning, and commercializing it. IP protection is primarily national, urging businesses to plan protection strategies based on their operational geographies.

For an in-depth exploration of these pillars and more insights from Silvia de Sousa, we invite you to watch the full recording of the webinar here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgItK5mAsNI.

Additionally, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has developed comprehensive e-modules available for free, offering valuable knowledge on IP here: https://ised-isde.canada.ca/site/canadian-intellectual-property-office/en?open&utm_campaign=cipo-generic&utm_source=bcd&utm_medium=partner_web_page&utm_content=pog

For entrepreneurs seeking personalized advice and strategies, our partner TDS Law offers tailored consultations. Discover how they can assist in elevating your business through effective IP management here: https://www.tdslaw.com/services/intellectual-property/

The information contained in this article should not replace or be taken as legal advice. Please consult a lawyer on your IP needs. Any errors made in this post are that of the writer, and not a reflection of Silvia De Sousa or TDS LLP.

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