IP beyond our borders

Businesses increasingly operate in a global marketplace, selling their products and services, or licensing and franchising their intellectual property (IP) rights beyond their national borders.

IP is a valuable asset that can enhance your competitive advantage by:

  • Preventing competitors from using and selling your product or service
  • Improving your financial performance and increasing the value and profitability of your business
  • Supporting your business expansion abroad

As IP is only protected within national borders, you should consider seeking IP protection in the country in which you wish to operate. International agreements have been created to facilitate and harmonize processes for registering your IP in multiple jurisdictions.

It is important to consider your IP protection in accordance with your identified markets, business goals and resources.

International IP protection

There are a number of international organizations that exist to facilitate the use of the IP system in an effective way.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO administers a balanced and accessible international IP system to simplify the process for seeking IP protection internationally. The international filing systems reduce your costs for obtaining international protection.

World Trade Organization and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) established in 1995, oversees the rules governing trade between its 153 Members in order to increase economic growth and social prosperity.

The WTO introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system: The TRIPS Agreement. TRIPS specify enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution on IP rights protection around the world.

The agreement covers five broad issues:

  • how basic principles of the trading system and other international intellectual property agreements should be applied
  • how to give adequate protection to intellectual property rights
  • how countries should enforce those rights adequately in their own territories
  • how to settle disputes on intellectual property between members of the WTO
  • special transitional arrangements during the period when the new system is being introduced

How to register your IP internationally

Businesses should take steps to protect their IP assets and exploit them to the greatest extent possible based on their business strategy. Registration of IP in Canada provides protection only in Canada. Similar protection must also be sought in targeted markets. Navigate through steps one to eight to learn more about IP for Exporting Businesses

Resources on IP registration or application abroad: