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Innovation | When and how to protect your intellectual property?



Innovation is popular for SMEs. But who says innovation, also says protection of intellectual property. Where to start ? Press discussed it with Dominique Pomerleau, patent agent in Canada and the United States.

Q. Is intellectual property protection only available to large companies?

R. Not at all ! There are a lot of myths to be debunked when it comes to intellectual property. We will not recommend the same strategy to a start-up SME as to a multinational. The strategy always evolves in fact with the context, the new products and the place that the company takes on the market.

Q. What types of protection are possible?

R. There are patents for inventions that have functions, industrial designs that include the shape of a finished product and software GUIs, trademarks that include names and logos, copyright that includes includes computer code and, finally, trade secrets.

Q. When should a business think about protecting its intellectual property?

R. From the start! Take the example of the trademark. A new company that chooses a name without checking whether it is available is likely to receive, when it starts to do good business, a formal notice from a competitor who owns that mark. She could then be forced to change the name of her company, product or service! Then, thinking about its intellectual property should be done on a regular basis, each time the company releases a new product or service. And this, even if it is in the heat of the moment!

Q. Is it complicated and expensive to protect your intellectual property?

R. You have to be well supported in this process. For example, ADRIQ offers a program that allows entrepreneurs to have access to an intellectual property expert in order to obtain strategic advice. You have to find the information you need to be able to make an informed decision. The intellectual property strategy is always determined according to the needs of the company and its means. You can plan and budget for your intellectual property investments without being stifled by expense. For example, we can opt for a provisional patent application, less expensive, to give the company time to see if protecting this technology is worth it and, if so, in which countries. The money that will flow into the business through technology must justify the expense necessary to protect it.

Q. Does protecting your intellectual property mean that you often have to go to court?

R. No. There are very few disputes, but there are a lot of negotiations. Small businesses are often afraid of being eaten up by the big ones. However, large companies value their reputation, so they are not going to risk counterfeiting a product patented by a small company. They will prefer to buy the technology or create a partnership with the SME. But if the intellectual property has not been protected, they can use it!

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