Do you have a great idea for a new product, material, or process or have you invented something new? If so, you may want to consider protecting your invention with a patent.

A patent is a government grant that gives you the exclusive right to make, sell, and use your invention for 20 years from the date you file your application.

Patenting your invention can help you:

  • Attract investors
  • Protect your idea from competitors
  • License or sell your idea to others

You can apply for a patent if you invent something new or if you develop an improvement on an existing invention.

To be eligible for a patent, your invention must be:

  • Novel - your invention must be the first of its kind in the world
  • Useful - your invention must be functional and operative
  • Inventive - your invention must show ingenuity and not be obvious to others

Before you invest your time and money, search the Canadian Patents Database to see if your invention has already been patented. If it hasn't been patented, you will want to decide if the benefits of patenting outweigh the costs for your business.

Keep in mind that if you are granted a patent for an improvement to an existing invention, you will need to get a license from the owner of the original invention before you use it. Conversely, if the original patent holder wants to use your improvement, they will have to sign a licensing agreement with you.

It is important to remember that a Canadian patent protects your invention within the country, but not internationally. If you would like to protect your invention in other countries, you will want to file separate patent applications.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has a Guide to Patents as well as a tutorial that can help you lean more about the application process.

For more information about intellectual property and how to apply it to your ideas, creations and inventions, visit our Intellectual Property page.