When a car leaves the factory, it has everything that makes it functional for the average person. But some people may prefer customizing their cars based on how they intend to use them or for aesthetics.
As a result, there has been significant growth in the car customization industry. If you are in the car customization industry, protecting your creations will be among the most significant challenges you will have to deal with.
But if you are having challenges with other business entities and individuals using your creative designs, your first line of defense should be registering your IPs.
IP Protections In Canada
Under Canadian intellectual property law, inventors, authors, developers, and designers have a right to protect their creations. These protections prevent other people from profiting from their creations or inventions.
There are several types of protections provided under Canadian IP laws, with the most common being patents, industrial designs, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights. The applicability of these propositions depends largely on the industry.
The most applicable protections in the off-market car part manufacturing industry include industrial design and trademarks.
Industrial design protections are awarded to creations that are unique in appearance. Unlike patents that cover the functional aspect of the registration item, Canadian industrial design protections only cover the appearance and aesthetics of the car part in question but do not cover aspects such as the methods used to create the product and the materials used.
Upon successful product design registration, you get an exclusive right to exploit the design commercially by manufacture, sale, or import and prevent others from copying it without authorization.
The responsibility of policing the infringement of your industrial design rights lies with you. So if you have evidence of infringement, you may need to work with an IP attorney to build a case against them. If you are successful, you can recover damages from the infringer.
The Scope of Industrial Protection
Industrial protections do not run indefinitely; they offer protection for a limited time, which varies with the country. In Canada, industrial design rights last 15 years from the date you file them, five years less than patent protection. After 15 years, any other person can use the designs without facing any legal ramifications.
Also, industrial designs registered in Canada will only offer protection in Canada. So, if you wish to enjoy protection in other countries, you must register your designs in the countries in question. The extent of protection after registration in other countries will depend on the laws of those countries.
Trademarks are brand identifiers such as brand names, logos, and slogans. Customers depend on these identifiers to distinguish products from one brand from its competition. Also, they play a critical role in building brand reputation, especially if you are consistent with quality.
Unfortunately, years of building a reputation can come crashing down when other entities use your brand identifiers to sell their products that may not meet the same standards of quality as yours. The best protection against counterfeiters is registering your brand name as a trademark.
This way, you enjoy exclusive rights to your brand name, logo, and marketing slogans, like industrial design protections. Registering your trademarks allows you to take legal action against infringers, including holding them liable for damages suffered.
Scope of Trademark Protections
Like other types of IP rights, registering your trademarks in Canada offers protection in Canada only. If you wish to enjoy similar protections in other jurisdictions, you must register your trademarks in those countries. Also, you can consider registering your trademarks with online retailers such as Amazon and eBay.
In Canada, trademark protections run for renewable terms of ten years. So, you can retain your trademark rights indefinitely as long as you pay the renewal fee. Countries will have different protection periods; however, all have provisions for renewals at a fee.
The best approach when registering trademarks in a foreign country is to work with an agency that has experience with international trademark registration.
Where to Register Your IP Rights in Canada
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has the constitutional mandate of registering IP rights in Canada. You can apply to register your IPs by visiting the CIPO office in person or by visiting their website.
While the process of registering your IPs may seem relatively straightforward, it is possible to make mistakes that could complicate your registration process. The best approach would be to have an IP expert help you through the process.
IPs are becoming increasingly important for business in today’s competitive world. If you are keen on building a reputation with your customers, this is one of the areas you need to pay particular attention to.
This is especially true for product-oriented businesses like off-market car parts makers. If you are in the car parts industry and hoping to register your IPs, the above-detailed post can help you understand everything you need about IP protections in Canada and other jurisdictions.