IP Innovation Clinic

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to the ownership of an idea or design by the person who came up with it. It is a term used in property law. It gives a person certain exclusive rights to a distinct type of creative design, meaning that nobody else can copy or reuse that creation without the owner’s permission.

How can your business, product or innovation be protected?

Intellectual property protection isn’t as simple as declaring ownership of a particular product or asset.
In most countries, there are four primary types of intellectual property (IP) that can be legally protected. Each has their own attributes, requirements and costs.
Copyrights protect ideas the manner in which ideas are expressed. Written works, programming code, architectural drawings, music & art. With certain exceptions, copyrights allow the owner to control reproduction, new versioning or adaptations, public performance, and distribution of the works.
Patents are used to protect inventive ideas or processes – patents are what most often come to mind when thinking of Intellectual Property protection.
Trade secrets act as competitive advantages for your business. Things like formulas, procedures, systems, devices, strategies or other confidential information exclusive to your company.

Trademarks are often considered assets that describe or otherwise identify the source of underlying products or services that a company provides.

Unlike a patent, it protects words, phrases, symbols, sounds, smells and colour schemes.

Previous slide
Next slide
IP Innovation Clinic, Invest Barrie and Sandbox Partnership graphic


IP Innovation Clinic will provide free intellectual property (IP) legal information, awareness and education to the Sandbox Centre members and the local business community.

As the first intellectual property legal clinic of its kind, IP Innovation Clinic has the largest operation to date in Canada. IP Innovation Clinic supports small and medium-sized enterprises through Osgoode Hall Law School’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Program.

Learn more about IP Innovation Clinic

Receive instant insight: Innovation Clinic Chatbot

IP Innovation Clinic FAQs

The IP Innovation Clinic is a needs-based IP legal clinic based at Osgoode Hall Law School. IP Innovation Clinic clients are matched with law student volunteers called Clinic Fellows to provide IP information, awareness, and assistance. Our Clinic Fellows are supervised by lawyers from Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

We work to promote access to justice by helping minimize some of the early-stage costs associated with recognizing and protecting your IP and understanding your freedom to operate.

As a student-based, experiential education program there are limits to the types and scope of services we can provide. All of our Clinic Fellows are registered law students at Osgoode Hall Law School.


1. Reviewing basic issues in business transactions involving intellectual property.

  • » Clinic Fellows and the supervising lawyer can provide you with an IP commercialization consultation, which will identify relevant IP and issues facing your business and the next steps needed to protect your assets.
  • » The IP commercialization consultation may also provide best practice guidelines and information surrounding your freedom to operate.

2. Patent searches and prior art searches,

  • » Clinic Fellows can perform a patent and/or prior art search, which will provide you with information about whether your invention meets the criteria for patentability.

3. Trade-mark searches,

  • » Clinic Fellows can perform a trademark search, which will provide you with information about whether your invention meets the criteria for securing a trademark registration.

4. IP Agreement review (Internal, Contractor, License, etc.),

  • » At the discretion of the supervising lawyer, Clinic Fellows and the supervising lawyer can review IP-related agreements. For example, we can help review IP assignment agreements between you and outside developers, contractors, etc.

5. IP Application drafting and/or review,

  • » At the discretion of the supervising lawyer, Clinic Fellows may assist with drafting and/or reviewing IP applications. Please note: this service depends on the complexity of your application and individual circumstances. Further, Innovation Clinic staff and Fellows are not patent or trademark agents and cannot file applications on your behalf.

6. Other tasks as assigned and supervised by the supervising lawyer.

  • » In certain cases the supervising lawyer may assign IP-related tasks to the Clinic Fellows other than those listed above. Please note that this depends on the complexity of your matter(s), whether the Clinic Fellows are able to properly perform the task, and whether the supervising lawyer is able to oversee and review their work.

Importantly, in accordance with the relevant rules and regulations of the Law Society of Ontario, Innovation Clinic staff and fellows do not provide legal advice. Clinic fellows work under the supervision of practising lawyers to provide IP information to our clients.

The IP Innovation Clinic is open to individual inventors and entrepreneurs as well as start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, and start-ups beginning to scale. We primarily provides services to clients across Southern Ontario but do not have a set catchment area. Clients do not need to be York University community members. We are sector and technology agnostic. We assist clients from any industry or sector based on their IP needs.

We also do not have a firm financial cut off but your financial resources are considered prior to acceptance. Our general rule is that you and/or your business would not be able to hire professional counsel or otherwise receive IP legal assistance. IP Innovation Clinic assists for profit and non-profit organizations.

In order to make the process fruitful for all parties, we expect that you are interested in learning about how to protect your IP, committed to working with our Clinic Fellows to do so, and understanding that you are working with law students and not professional lawyers.


  • You should be interested and willing to learn more about IP protection and how IP can assist you and your organization’s goals. The IP Innovation Clinic is designed to promote IP awareness, education, and savviness for Canadians and we can assist regardless of your prior experience or understanding of IP.


  • You and your organization should be committed to the process. The Innovation Clinic receives numerous requests for assistance and space in the program is limited.
  • Before becoming a client of the Innovation Clinic, you and/or your business will be asked to enter into separate engagement agreements with the IP Innovation Clinic and the supervising lawyer’s firm, becoming a client of both the IP Innovation Clinic and the supervising firm.
  • Out of consideration for everyone involved, please be on time for your scheduled call(s) and/or meeting(s). The Clinic Fellow and supervising lawyer will hold the line for 10 minutes from the scheduled call time and then disconnect. Please advise as soon as possible if you are running late or need to reschedule.
  • The IP Innovation Clinic and/or supervising lawyer reserve the right to withdraw our services if more than 2 scheduled calls and/or meetings are missed.
  • We run the Innovation Clinic as though it is a small, professional firm and expect our clients to do the same.
  • For your call and/or meetings, you should conduct yourself in a professional manner and be respectful of the time and effort our team provides you.
  • For example, be in a quiet, professional place for your calls and respond to our emails and communications in a timely fashion. Treat the process professionally; we do.


  • We understand and appreciate the various professional and personal commitments that you have as an entrepreneur. We work to accommodate you and your schedule as best as possible.
  • Similarly, we expect that you understand and appreciate the other commitments that our team members have too. Our Clinic Fellows and supervising lawyers volunteer their time and assistance. Please be respectful and understanding of the time constraints and schedules of our Clinic Fellows and supervising lawyers.
  • Since you will not be paying for legal services as provided by a qualified lawyer, you agree that your matters will be handled in a manner that is consistent with how a reasonable person or organization in similar circumstances would accept it to be conducted. For example, you will not ask the Clinic or the law student caseworkers to take steps which you have been advised have a low probability of success or require a significant expenditure of time relative to the likely benefits to the conduct or outcome of the matter.

The services provided by our Clinic Fellows as well as the supervision of our team of lawyers is provided pro bono. The initial IP commercialization consultation is offered free of charge.

Following the consultation and if you decide to engage the Innovation Clinic, you will need to pay a nominal $50 one-time only administrative fee to offset associated costs. There are no obligations that you engage the Innovation Clinic following your IP commercialization consultation.

The work performed by the Clinic Fellows and reviewed by the supervising lawyer are free of charge. This pro bono work will be described to you in a Work Plan Memo.

on Content

All communications and information shared between the Clinic Fellows, supervising lawyers, and clients are confidential. All Clinic Fellows sign a confidentiality agreement prior to performing any work for the clinic. The confidentiality agreement continues indefinitely, even after Clinic Fellows leave the Innovation Clinic and law school.

To further ensure confidentiality, all client files are stored in the secured drive on the law school’s network. The secured drive is password protected and only the Clinic Director, Supervisor, or Coordinator can grant access.

Clinic Fellows also receive an Osgoode staff email account to use for all Innovation Clinic correspondence. These staff email accounts have greater security measures than the standard Osgoode student accounts.

As a volunteer-based, pro bono legal clinic we cannot guarantee specific timelines. Timelines will be developed in consultation with you, the Clinic Fellow(s), and supervising lawyer(s). The IP Innovation Clinic strives to manage and meet our clients’ expectations. Our work plans include an estimated length of time needed to complete the engagement matter(s) and our Clinic Fellows will provide progress updates at appropriate intervals throughout the process.

The process for being admitted into the Clinic begins when you contact our staff. Staff will contact you to discuss your situation and determine if we can assist. Following this, a conflict check will be performed to ensure there are no conflicts of interest.

If we are clear to proceed with the matter, an IP consultation meeting or call will be conducted between you, a Clinic Fellow, and supervising lawyer. This intake meeting will introduce you to the services provided by the Innovation Clinic and allow you to ask questions and decide how you would like to move forward with the Innovation Clinic.

If you are accepted for admittance into the Innovation Clinic, the Clinic Fellow will provide you with a work plan and estimated timeline, engagement agreement, and invoice.

Due to the guidelines of the Law Society of Ontario, our Clinic staff and student volunteers will not be able to file an application on your behalf. You can discuss filing an application with the supervising lawyer(s) and their firm for a fee. You are not obligated to continue to working with or filing through our partner firm(s).

The IP Innovation Clinic cannot assist with IP-related lawsuits, disputes, or responses to infringement letters. Such needs are beyond the scope of our pro bonoInnovation Clinic services. To help you find proper representation I would suggest that you try the Law Society of Ontario’s Referral service, their website is https://www.lsuc.on.ca/lsrs/

Select IP Innovation Clinic clients may be eligible for assistance through our collaboration with the BEST Lab at the Lassonde School of Engineering. The Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) Lab may be able to provide support to the Innovation Clinic clients with product development and prototyping.

IP Innovation Clinic clients who are affiliated with York University will also have access to the commercialization and industry liaison services offered by Innovation York. Non-affiliated clients may be referred to other accelerators and incubators in our network.


Brought To You By Our Presenting Partner

Your journey to success

Sandbox connects people & their ideas to business resources; where guided collaboration and sharing of collective knowledge support their journey to success.