Intellectual Property: A Brief Overview

This page provides an overview and description of:

Refer to the Intellectual Property Program (IPP) for more information.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights are ownership rights and, depending upon the type of product or work, these rights can take the form of patent, copyright, trademark, industrial design and/or trade secrets.  These rights are intangible in nature in that they relate to the human intellect that is used to create the physical product.  For example, the physical book is the tangible product, the author’s creative story being told on the pages of the book is the intellectual property.


The legal rights of the copyright owner are set out in the Copyright Act and include the exclusive right to reproduce, publish and sell a work.  Copyright exists in relation to a wide range of materials, including but not limited to:

  • written materials, such as books, manuals, reports and computer software;
  • visual materials, such as videos, photographs, pictures, posters and maps; and
  • audio materials, such as music and voice recordings.

It is an infringement of copyright for a person to exercise any of the copyright owner’s rights without the consent of the copyright owner.

Learn more about intellectual property rights management in contracts.

Moral Rights

Moral rights protect the honour and reputation of the author of copyrighted materials (including computer programs) and can be divided into three categories:

  • Right to Integrity – the right to ensure the work is not changed in a manner that will affect the author’s reputation;
  • Right to Attribution – the right to be associated with the work or to remain anonymous; and
  • Right to Association – the right in how the work is used in association with a product, service, cause or institution.

Learn more about the importance of Waivers of Moral Rights.


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