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What are the different types of intellectual property?

November 16th, 2021

In the world of intellectual property, there are different categories, each with its own particularities. The following article will attempt to demystify the different types of intellectual property so that you can anticipate and foresee which one is the most adapted to the protection and eventual valorisation of your invention. It should be noted that each type of intellectual property can be licensed to a third party interested in exploiting it. Here are some of the different types of intellectual property:

The know-how

In the case of know-how, it is an expertise. Know-how can, in certain cases, be the subject of a declaration of invention and can even be licensed. However, it is not protected, it is transmitted.

The trade secret

More commonly known as “industrial secrets”, trade secrets may be the subject of a declaration of invention.


This type of intellectual property refers to the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, translate, modify, publish, or perform a work. Generally, the creator owns the copyright. However, sometimes an employer owns the rights, as is the case in film studios, unless there is a prior agreement to the contrary. Usually, copyright remains valid for the life of the author and then for a period of 50 years after his or her death.

Usually, copyright remains valid for the life of the author and then for a period of 50 years after his or her death. It does not need to be registered.

As for software, including source codes and algorithms, it is considered a work. It is therefore also protected by copyright. It can also be protected by a patent.

Industrial designs

Industrial designs are protected by registration for a period of 10 years. They include any visual, shape, configuration, pattern or decorative element, or any combination of features that distinguish them from any other existing ones.


Sometimes it takes years of work to obtain a result of a research. If this result is useful and new, it can be considered as an invention and therefore be protected by patent. The patent can then protect a process, a product, a composition, or an improvement to an existing device. Usually, this type of patent protection covers a period of 20 years. The commercial access can be done by license.


In Canada, the registration of a trademark provides protection against its use for a period of 15 years, and it is possible to renew it. We speak of a trademark when referring to the signature of a sign, whether it is a sound, a design, a word, a symbol, or a combination of these different elements.

To navigate the world of intellectual property, do not hesitate to call upon experts who will be able to guide you towards the type that best suits what you want to protect.


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