When we think of our common-sense understanding of property, we often think about houses, vehicles, or other physical possessions. In modern society, though, what constitutes ‘property’ goes beyond what we can tangibly see.

Think of:

  • Movies you watch
  • Music you listen to
  • Corporate logos you see every day
  • Even the content of this blog!

What do these examples each have in common? They are all intangible – we all recognize their existence but we are not able to physically feel or touch these creations.
But it’s still possible to assign ownership to these intangible creations – making them examples of Intellectual Property.

Intellectual Property can be easily understood as creations of the mind. There are three primary types of Intellectual Property: copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

A copyright is a legal term that is used to describe a person’s ownership rights to an original expression of creativity. These creations could range from books, advertisements, or even databases. It is important to note that a person cannot copyright an idea; rather, they can copyright an expression of an idea that they’ve created.

A trademark is a recognizable sign or logo created to distinguish an enterprise. The golden “M” of McDonald’s or the Queen’s University crest are both examples of trademarks.

Lastly, a patent protects inventions: it prevents a person’s invention from being used, made or sold by others without their consent. Patents can be issued by the government for a fixed period of time.

The intersection of Intellectual Property and the law is becoming an increasingly important topic as our society continues to create innovative ideas that enhance our lives. Our laws play a strong role in protecting a person’s intellectual property from being copied, stolen, or taken advantage of by someone who had no part in its creation – activities that are ultimately harmful to a society that wishes to encourage individuals to create valuable, intangible, ideas. 

- Chris Lupis (Queen’s Law class of 2019)

Interested in intellectual property? Take the full class: Law 206/706, Intellectual Property Law, a deep dive into the three main kinds of IP and how they're regulated under Canadian law. You may also be interested in Law 201/701, Introduction to Canadian Law, or Law 204/704, Corporate Law. Find out more about the Certificate in Law and get our free guide by filling out the form on this page!