This is an agreement in which the person signing agrees not to reveal information regarding your invention or use the information commercially without your permission. It only need be signed by the person against whom it is to be enforced. Such agreements are also known as “Secrecy Agreements” or “Non-Disclosure Agreements”. The agreement is normally very brief, longer agreements used by large companies usually contain numerous escape clauses.
Protects the written materials, drawings, photographs, computer programs, etc. produced in the course of business. With some exceptions the protection is for the life of the author plus 50 years. The underlying ideas are not protected. You can stop them from copying but not from developing their own having received their “inspiration” from you.
Protects the unique shape and ornamental appearance of your product. In Canada for ten years from the date of registration with renewal after five years. In U.S. for 14 years.
Protects the method or apparatus that you develop to solve a problem. The protection lasts in most countries for 20 years from the date of filing of the patent. The test for patentability is that the solution you have developed must be new and useful and must not be obvious in view of what was previously known.
Is disclosure to any member of the public on a non-confidential basis. There are some persons, such as your lawyer, spouse and some government officials, for whom the law will presume confidentiality. If you are not sure it is best to have the person you are speaking to sign a confidentiality agreement before the idea is disclosed. This both prevents the person from misusing the information and ensures that public disclosure does not occur until you are ready. Public Disclosure is important as Canada and the United States require that a Patent or Design be filed within 12 months of public disclosure. Many countries require that a patent be filed before any public disclosure takes place.
Protects any brand name, logo, slogan, colour scheme, etc. that you use or intend to use to distinguish your business from that of your competitors, subject to certain restrictions for the protection of the public. The initial registration in Canada is valid for 15 years and can be renewed any number of times. On going use is critical, the trademarks office will allow you three years from the date of filing to commence use.