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Canada’s Economic Action Plan for 2014 included a number of proposals to strengthen intellectual property rights in Canada, including proposals aimed at lowering unnecessary costs associated with the IP regime. Reflecting this aim, recent amendments to the Patent Rules, related to the qualifying examinations for patent agents, came into force on May 1, 2014. 

According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s (CIPO) Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS), these amendments are expected to have a positive impact on the success rate of candidates taking the qualifying examinations for patent agents, and will decrease the unnecessary costs to both CIPO and candidates who are unsuccessful in their exams.

There has been a steady decline in first time pass rates for the exams over the past few years, and the amendments will help ensure that candidates have a comprehensive knowledge of IP law before sitting for the exam. They will also improve the exam process by providing CIPO with increased flexibility and efficiencies in the administration of the exams.

The amendments include:

  • Exams will be administered at least once a year, without reference to a specific month
  • Candidates proposing to sit for an exam will be notified of the exam date by any means appropriate
  • Refund requests will be restricted to situations where a candidate registers to sit for a previously administered exam and receives notification after they have registered that they have passed
  • The level of practical experience required in Canadian patent law and practice to be eligible to sit for an exam will be increased from 12 to 24 months 
  • Up to 12 months of practical experience will be recognized for people who are entitled to practice before the patent office of another country


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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