A device that allows people wearing noise-cancellation headphones and headsets to hear acoustic warning signals (e.g. police and ambulance sirens, car and truck’s honks, loud noises, designated words, honking, announcement, announcement tone, or any other loud sounds or predefined pattern of sound), especially runners, cyclists, construction workers, factory workers, and airport/airplane workers and passengers.

Abstract: The present invention provides for a portable apparatus and method for detection of environmental warning signals. The apparatus having an acoustic input device configured to produce an electrical representation of detected environmental warning signals, an electronic pre-processing unit configured to determine if the electrical representation satisfies a primary set of criteria, an electronic post-processing unit configured to verify if the electrical representation satisfies a secondary set of criteria and a warning indicator configured to transmit an alarm notification. The method having the steps of detecting an environmental warning signals, producing an electrical representation of the detected environmental warning signals, pre-processing the electrical representation to determine if a primary set of criteria has been met, if the set of criteria has been met, post processing the detected electrical signal to determine if a secondary set of criteria has been met and producing an alert message through at least one of an audible indicator, vibration indicator, visual indicator or wireless signal transmitter.

Applicant: Picotera Electronics Inc., Vancouver, BC

No. of patent applications: 1

Simple Video Communication Platform

Designed for clients with complex care needs, the Aetonix app doesn’t require passwords or rely on complicated login processes. A client can make or receive a call by touching a picture on a touchscreen or pressing a button on a safety bracelet. Clients can easily signal emergencies and view appointments and medication reminders. Having a face-to-face conversation with those in their circle of care has never been so simple.

Abstract: A system offering simplified bi-directional video communication between a user and a device of a pre-configured one or more persons of interest includes a touch display with a pictorial representation of each of the one or more persons of interest. The touch display is configured to establish the bi-directional video communication with a selected one of said persons of interest in response to a single touch of the pictorial representation of the selected one of the persons of interest. In one implementation, the system includes a monitoring device positioned to monitor one or more biometric parameters of the user, and saving the biometric data on a server for processing. More

Applicant: Aetonix Systems , Ottawa, ON   @aetonix

No. of patent applications: 2

No. of patents: 1

Contact Lens Case with Predetermined Life Span for Safety

A contact lens storage case of limited life and predetermined usage to further the safe and effective use of contact lenses by ensuring patient compliance through both limiting case use over a set period of time and discouraging reuse and topping-off of the disinfecting and storage solution. Generally, the self-destruction consists of the case developing a leak in a pre-determined fashion as a result of the change in properties of a material in a limited area of the case following exposure of the case to the storage solution. More

Can you patent a cocktail?

darknstormycandrinkbottleCan you patent a cocktail?

Just the other day I saw an article with the following title: ““Yes, you can patent a cocktail”. The article warned that bars may be sued for calling their cocktails “Dark ‘N’ Stormy” because Gosling, a rum manufacturer, trademarked the name Dark ‘N’ Stormy” for a mixture whose ingredients include Gosling’s Black Seal rum and Ginger Beer, with a wedge of lime.  As the author rightfully pointed out, the trademark protects the name of a cocktail, not its ingredients; therefore Gosling’s can not prevent bars from mixing an alternative rum with ginger beer. Just last year, Gosling sued Pernod Ricard USA, LLC alleging that Pernod’s use of “Dark ‘N’ Stormy” and “Black Stormy” in recipes and advertising containing Pernod’s Malibu line of rums infringed several of Gosling’s DARK ‘N STORMY registered trademarks (Gosling Brothers Ltd. et al. v. Pernod Ricard USA, LLC. 1995).

Therefore, it was obvious that the inclusion of the word “patent” in the title was an honest mistake, as the author was discussing trademarks.  Many people often make that mistake, as they are unable to distinguish between the various forms of intellectual property (IP).  I have lost count of the number of times that I have heard the following phrases: “I would like to patent my company’s logo”; or “Our software code is trademarked”; or “We need to copyright our idea for our new medical device”.

So what is IP?

IP can be thought of as legal protection for creations of the mind, and owners of such creations are granted certain exclusive rights under the law, if they take the appropriate steps to protect that property. Generally, intellectual property falls into four categories – trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets. Other forms of IP exist, such as trade dress, integrated circuits topographies (mask works), domain names, unfair competition, and publicity rights.


A patent is a limited right granted by the government to an inventor, to stop others from making, using or selling their invention for a limited time period. It is important to note that a patent does not give its owner the right to practice the invention. Thus, making, using, selling, offering for sale, and importing a patented invention can be blocked by other patents. As such, it is up to the patent owner to monitor misuse and to enforce their rights via an infringement action where misuse is found.

There are 3 types of patents: utility, design and plant.


apple-patent-movement-tracking-ui A utility patent is the most common type, and it covers any process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements thereof. To qualify for a utility patent, the invention must be novel, non-obvious, and useful. Examples include pharmaceuticals, genetically engineered seeds, 3D printing systems, self-driving vehicles, fact checking system for newsrooms, wireless charging for electronic devices, cryptographic schemes, compression garments, smart running shoes, farm implements, and so forth.  As a further example, a typical smartphone uses 100+ utility patents related to CDMA/4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, video coding, audio coding, built-in apps (e.g. maps, location services, etc.), touch-displays, processors, battery and power functions.  A utility patent lasts for 20 years, and after the patent expires the invention may be used freely by anyone.



designA design patent (or an industrial design registration) protects the features of a shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process. The difference between a design patent and a utility patent, is that a utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention i.e. the way an article is used or works. while a design patent protects new nonfunctional designs that appeal to the eye i.e. the way an article looks. A design patent only protects the appearance of the article and not the structural or utilitarian features. An article may be protected both by a design patent and a utility patent. Examples include, iPhone graphical user interface (GUI), icons, Oculus Rift headset,  LEGO pieces,  and Herman Miller’s famous Aeron chair.  To underscore the importance of design patents, in 2015 Samsung Electronics was order to pay Apple $725 million in damages for infringing patented designs of the iPhone. The patents at issue are D618,677 (a black rectangle with rounded corners), D593,087 (with bezel on surrounding rim), and D604,305 (a colorful grid of 16 icons.) Samsung appealed that verdict, and the case will be heard in the US Supreme Court in June 2017.

In Canada, an industrial design registration lasts for 10 years, beginning on the date of registration, and in the US, a design patent lasts for 15 years from the issue date.


apllA plant patent (plant breeders’ rights) protects any new variety of asexually reproduced plants, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. Asexual reproduction means that the plant is reproduced by means other than seeds, usually accomplished by cutting or grafting of the plant. Examples include a new color of climbing rose or a new variety of apple. A plant patent can only be infringed when the infringing plant has the same genetics as the patented plant.




iphone A trademark is used in business as an indicator of the source of the goods or services offered to consumers, and therefore distinguishes a business’ goods or services from those of others. It is usually a word, short phrase, slogan, symbol, design or combination thereof. However, a product’s shape or its packaging, or even a sound, can be a trademark. Trademarks help to prevent consumer confusion regarding goods or services they buy, and helps companies protect their goodwill. A trademark allows consumers to quickly, easily, and confidently identify the source of the good or service, and also be assured that the good or service is of a certain quality they have come to expect. For example, the Starbucks mermaid logo is for coffee, BIG MAC is a word mark hamburgers, JUST DO IT is a slogan for athletic wear, and VISA is a service mark for credit card services. A trademark registration can last forever, as long as it still being used, and must be renewed every 15 years (in Canada), and every 10 years in the US.


scodeCopyright is a form of protection given to an author of literary, musical works (e.g. songs, and melodies), or artistic works (e.g., paintings, photographs), dramatic works (e.g., scripts for films and dramas). To illustrate the importance of copyrights, in 2015 Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I. were ordered to pay $5.3 million and royalties to the Marvin Gaye family after a jury determined that “Blurred Lines” (a song by Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and T.I.) essentially ripped off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up.”

For companies, copyright protects the company’s publications and written materials, such as product brochures, instruction and maintenance manuals, and any form of advertising or promotional materials, such as television advertising, radio advertising, and internet advertisements. Copyright also protects computer software, source code and user interfaces.

In Canada, copyright exists during the lifetime of the author and for 50 years following the author’s death. In the United States, the copyright in a work of authorship lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, or if the author is anonymous or a company, for the longer of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation. The term cannot be extended or renewed.


tradesecA trade secret protects know how, or any confidential business information which provides  a company a competitive edge, and may include sales methods, distribution methods, consumer profiles, advertising strategies, lists of suppliers and clients, technical designs,  chemical formulas, and manufacturing processes. Some of the more notable trade secrets include the formula for Coca-Cola, WD-40 lubricant, KFC’s “Secret Recipe Herbs and Spices”.

Registration for trade secret protection is not required. Generally, to protect a trade secret, the owner simply needs to make reasonable efforts to keep the information at issue confidential. Therefore, a trade secret protection can be perpetual, so long as the secret is kept a secret.

Hopefully this clears up any confusion you may have had about trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets.

UPDATE: The title of the above-noted article now been changed to “Yes, you can trademark a cocktail”, following comments by others, however the URL still refers to the original title.

Disclaimer: The information in this document is necessarily of a general nature and is given by way of guidance only. Specific legal advice should be sought on any particular matter. Sabeta IP accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any action taken or not taken on the basis of the information contained herein. If you would like to discuss how this information relates to your specific situation, please contact Tony Sabeta at patents(at), or visit for more information.

Tony is a registered patent agent with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office  (CIPO) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). He advises startups on intellectual property strategy, including drafting and prosecuting patent applications in the areas of mobile communications, internet technologies, software, machine learning, electro-mechanical systems, and medical devices.

Digital Flyer System with Contextual Information

A shopping app that aggregates digital flyers to help shoppers find the best deals, offers an easy-to-use solution to manage increasing grocery expenses. A system for contextualizing a digital flyer is disclosed.

flippbloAbstract: The system includes a polygon mapping module for incorporating contextual information in the digital flyer using polygon mapping information, the polygon mapping information comprising a polygon for defining a polygonal area on a source flyer image of the digital flyer, the polygon being tagged with the contextual information, and a flyer data store for storing the tagged polygon. Read more

Applicant: Flipp Corporation, Toronto, ON

No. of patents/applications: 13


Apparatus and Method for Printing Circuitry

Print your circuit boards, dispense solder paste, and reflow! The Voltera V-One lets you go from concept to creation in minutes. Building circuit boards is fun but difficult. While you could do it at home with a some etchant and some clear plastic, Voltera hopes to make the entire process much easier with their V-One circuit printer.



Abstract: A novel apparatus and method for printing circuitry that can dispense conducting traces, insulating traces, solder paste, and other materials onto a substrate material in a manner that allows for convenient prototyping of printed circuit boards.  Read more

Applicant: Voltera Inc, Waterloo, ON

No. of patent applications: 1

System and Method for Creating and Managing Individual Users for Personalized Television on Behalf of Pre-Existing Video Delivery Platforms

img_solutions1A system and method are provided for enabling members of a television viewing location to generate user profiles on behalf of a video middleware system. The method comprises intercepting data exchanged between an end user apparatus and the video middleware system; processing the data to generate either first processed data in a first format familiar to a user lifecycle management system, or second processed data in a second format familiar to the video middleware system; and providing either the first processed data to the user lifecycle management system, or the second processed data to the video middleware system. Read more

UXP Systems Inc. , Toronto, ON

No. of patent applications: 4

Mobile Image Payment System

personasA Mobile Image Payment System for mobile commerce, which enables a Consumer to use a mobile device to make payments for online, Electronic Media, Print Media and POS Transactions, involving the presentment of an optical machine readable image. In an embodiment, the Consumer scans the encoded, mobile device scannable image that is displayed by a merchant, to initiate a transaction. Read more, Toronto, ON

No. of patents/patent applications: 21

Wireless Cardiac Event Recorder


A wireless cardiac event recorder is provided comprising two or more electrodes capable of detecting a patient’s heart beat and producing a corresponding electronic signal. A transmitter component is coupled to the electrodes to receive the electronic signal and wirelessly transmit the signal to a cardiac event monitor. More

Event Cardio Group Inc., Thorold, ON

No. of patent applications: 1

System and method for home screen navigation

scribA system and method for rendering a graphical user interface. The method includes displaying, on a mobile device, a first subset of a plurality of objects of a multimedia container on a home screen and receiving an input. The multimedia container is operable to comprise one or more applications, widgets, and pieces of content. In one embodiment, the plurality of objects of said multimedia container extends beyond a display of said mobile device. In response to said input, a second subset of said plurality objects of said multimedia container and a portion of said first subset of plurality of objects of said multimedia container on said home screen is displayed.

Kobo Incorporated, Toronto, ON 

No. of patent applications: 7