Canada’s annual Economic Action Plan, tabled on February 11th included a number of proposals to strengthen intellectual property rights in Canada.
The first of these was a proposal to strengthen and modernize Canada’s intellectual property framework to better align it with international practices. The aim of this proposal is to lower unnecessary costs associated with the existing IP regime in order to help innovative local businesses access international markets, as well as to draw foreign investment to Canada by reducing the regulatory burden and red tape faced by businesses.
The proposal includes ratifying international treaties, such the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty, the Nice Agreement, the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague Agreement, making it easier to obtain intellectual property protection across a number of countries. The treaties have already been tabled in Parliament. The Government also proposes changes to the Patent Act, the Trade-marks Act and the Industrial Design Act, which are expected to have a positive impact on industries such as the music and agricultural industries.
The budget also included plans to support innovation and competitiveness in Canada’s agricultural sector by strengthening the intellectual property rights of plan breeders, and improving access to innovative seed varieties for Canadian farmers. Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, was introduced to Parliament in early December, 2013. The Act will amend several pieces of legislation, including the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act to align it with the 1991 Convention of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants.
Consistent with these proposals, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) launched a “Modernizing the IP Community” initiative in 2013 to review how CIPO, IP agents and various agent associations, including the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC), the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI), and the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), collaborate to support the needs of Canadian businesses and innovators. The initiative’s working group’s recommendations will address the maintenance of a registry of qualified patent and trademark agents, as well as the development of an ethics framework for agents in prosecuting applications before CIPO. CIPO has also recently announced the launch of a new Trade-marks e-Filing system.
It will be interesting to see what the overall impact of these initiatives will have on intellectual property rights in Canada.