The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has issued a report entitled IP Canada Report 2016, discussing trends in IP use domestically, and by Canadians abroad, based on analysis of CIPO’s internal data and those collected by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

There are few surprises, and the report highlights the close relationship between the economies of Canada and the United States. Half of Canadian patent and industrial design applications are filed by US applicants as are a third of all Canadian trademark applications. In kind, when Canadians file IP applications abroad, more than half are filed in the US.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty continues to make gains as the preferred filing route, with PCT-route applications now making up 80% of all patent applications filed at CIPO.

The domestic share of patent and industrial design applications filed in CIPO is very different from the domestic share of trademark applications. In 2015, Canadian residents accounted for 12 and 14% of patent and industrial design filings in CIPO, respectively, whereas Canadian residents filed 43% of trademark applications received by CIPO.

Although patent filings in Canada were up 4% between 2014 and 2015, they are still 12% below their 2006 peak. In comparison, trademark filings by residents rose 13% since 2006 and filings by non-residents rose 19% in the same period. CIPO expects international trademark applications to grow over the next five years as Canada prepares to join the Madrid protocol. Similar to trademarks, industrial design filings show an increase of 21% from 2006 to 2015.

With respect to outgoing filings, some notable results are reported. In the period of 2005 to 2014, overall global IP rights applications by Canadians grew by 35%. Of those applications, 56% were for patents, 40% were for trademarks, and 4% for industrial designs.

The increasing importance of China to Canadian innovators is reflected in the data, with China now being the third most popular destination for the foreign filing of patent and industrial design applications by Canadians, behind only the US and Europe, and the second most popular filing destination for trademarks, following only the US.

CIPO has analyzed patent filing data by Canadian applicants in the area of climate change mitigation technologies. Their research suggests that Canadian innovators have particular strengths in the areas of carbon capture, buildings, smart grids, and traditional energy.

Reductions in pendency time are reported for all of patents, trademarks, and industrial designs. For instance, for patents, the pendency time in 2012 was 86.7 months whereas in 2015 it was 82.8 months, a reduction of about 4.5%. Significantly, fully half of the pendency time results from deferral of the request for examination by the applicant. The request for examination of a Canadian patent application may be deferred five years from the filing date. In principle, if this deferral was removed from our law, pendency times could be halved, although there would be a backlog of work at CIPO and fewer opportunities to take advantage of foreign prosecution results.

Perhaps the most interesting note in the report is the mention of Taylor Wessing’s Global Intellectual Property Index Fifth Report, in which the UK law firm Taylor Wessing assesses the IP regimes of 43 jurisdictions. Looking comprehensively at trademarks, patents, copyright, designs, and data protection, and considering some 17 influencing factors, Canada is ranked fourth, behind only the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The reader would be well-served to review Taylor Wessing’s report in detail, to understand the rating methodology. For instance, Canada jumped from thirteenth to sixth place in patents, and the report postulates that this relates to Canada being seen as a good jurisdiction for the challenge of patent validity, particularly in the life sciences field. Whether this is a strength of the patent system is in the eye of the beholder.