How Can Creative Artists Protect Their Intellectual Property?

Creative artists have a great deal to contribute to the world with their imagination. Artists, musicians, lyricists, sculptors, fashion designers and graphic designers use creative expression to create unique works that should be protected. While litigation cases involving unlawful use of an artist’s work are frequent, there are many creative artists who are unaware of the significance of protecting their work. The aim of this article is to throw light on the Intellectual Property Law for artists in Canada and solutions that enable them to protect their pieces of art:

Understand the Type of your IP

The Intellectual Property Law (IP) in Canada has three major modules – copyrights, trademarks and patents. Copyright law is meant to protect art and writings. Trademark law protects names, slogans and symbols for products. Patents secure inventions. Here’s a closer look at the IP rights applicable for most creative artists:


As a creative artist, you should be aware of what can or cannot be registered under the Trademarks Act of Canada. This is particularly important for those who own an art business. Take a look at the list below to understand what cannot be trademarked:

  • A person’s name cannot be trademarked unless there is an existing, popular brand with the same name
  • If your trademark sounds similar to another name which is trademarked by another company. For example, if a company called ‘Grey’s world’ already exists, you cannot trademark ‘Graze world’
  • Common descriptive words cannot be trademarked
  • Words in other languages fall that describe the goods/services cannot be trademarked
  • Words or designs that resemble a prohibited mark cannot be trademarked

We recommend that you consult with an trademark agent to get your trademark registered as early as possible to avoid potential infringement issues.


The entire aim of encouraging artists to copyright their work is to advocate creative expression in society by protecting the economic and legal interests of artists. If your work is an original and you meet the requirements of the qualified persons as per the Copyright Act, then you can successfully acquire a copyright registration for your work of art. An important factor to keep in mind is that your copyright is automatically valid if your work meets the above three criteria. But, it is always advisable to get a registration to have proof of ownership.

The clause for determining originality for artistic work is rather complex. A music composer cannot make minor changes to an existing song and call it new. This applies to other artists as well.

Protect your Artwork Online

The digital world is boundless and hence difficult to regulate. However, as an artist, these are some things you can do to ensure your work of art is protected:

  • Use digital watermarks
  • Put up a copyright notice on the web page where your work is displayed
  • Disable right click for artwork on the website
  • Use a digital fingerprint on your feed to know the source points of infringement
  • Use plagiarism tools like Copyscape to search for places that have used your content
  • Have google alerts for brand names which are associated with you.

To know more about intellectual property law for artists and ways to protect your original work, get in touch with our professionals.