Glossary, References and Sample Letters

Audio-visual and computer materials include, but are not limited to, audio and video tapes, films, slides and photographs, computer programs and computer-stored information.

Copyright: The exclusive right of the creator, or subsequent copyright holder, to reproduce a work. Copyright exists as soon as an artistic, literary or musical work or software is created; it arises automatically when an original work is created. Accordingly registration at the copyright office is purely voluntary; failure to register does not affect the validity of the copyright. Registration of a copyright facilitates the copyright holder’s rights in the event of a legal dispute. Copyright protection in Canada lasts for the life of the author plus 50 years.

Invention or discovery can include databases, audio and video tapes, films, slides and photographs, computer programs and computer-stored information or equivalent circuitry, biotechnology and genetic engineering products and all other products of research which may be licensable. Inventions do not include traditional scholarly works such as books, lecture notes, laboratory manuals, artifacts, visual art and music.

A researcher’s know-how can often have considerable value. While it is mandatory in filing a patent application to disclose sufficient information to enable others to reduce the invention to practice, the researcher will often also possess valuable confidential know-how and experience to permit commercial optimization of a process or product. Know-how can in fact be licensed independently and a know-how license need not be restricted to the term of the related patent. Confidential information and know-how should, therefore, be clearly defined and disclosures should be covered by a written contract.

A patent is right granted by a national government, upon application and in exchange for a complete disclosure of an invention. The disclosure is initially a confidential disclosure to the patent office, which later becomes a non-confidential disclosure to the public at large. A patent gives the applicant the exclusive right to make, use, or sell the claimed invention for a limited period of time. Subject to the payment of the prescribed annual fees, patents generally have a life of 17 to 20 years depending on the jurisdiction. In Canada, patents have a lifetime of 20 years from the date the patent application is filed. In order to be patentable, an invention must be novel, useful and not obvious to a person skilled in the field of the invention.

Patentable subject matter includes products, processes, machines, manufactures or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement of any of these, such as new uses of known compounds. Novel, genetically engineered life forms and new microbial life forms can be patented in some jurisdictions (such as the United States) but not in others. Methods of medical treatment are also patentable in some jurisdictions (such as the United States) but not in others, including Canada. Scientific theorems or principles,methods of doing business or of playing games, as well as anything that is illegal or illicit, are not patentable.

Publication is disclosure that gives the public or third parties knowledge or details of an invention. Publication may be made by way of speech, talk, paper, tape, video recording or other electronic means, drawing, photograph, printed work, or any other disclosure given or distributed. Publication does not include disclosures made on a confidential basis. Depositing a thesis in the University Library constitutes publication within this definition and may prejudice the ability to obtain a patent unless an appropriate measures are taken to limit access the thesis during the critical patent application period.