Yesterday, Canada and the European Union officially signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), clearing the way for ratification. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also indicated that Canada will seek to implement enabling legislation within the coming months.

The primary goal of CETA is to eliminate or reduce tariffs on trade between Canada and the EU and the harmonization of other rules to encourage trade. IP owners should be aware of CETA’s impact on Canadian intellectual property law, particularly in the fields of trademarks and pharmaceutical patents. More details can be found in our IP Update of September 29, 2014.

Trademarks and Geographical Indications – Canada will be required to make reasonable efforts to comply with the Singapore Treaty and accede to the Madrid Protocol. Following the 2014 amendments to the Trademarks Act, Canada is already on its way to compliance.

Of particular interest to brand owners will be changes to the protection of “geographical indications” (GIs). CETA will restrict the use of certain European GIs to products originating from the European regions that the GIs are traditionally associated with, such as “Roquefort” for cheese or “Aceto balsaminco di Modena” for balsamic vinegar. For other terms, such as “Asiago”, “Feta”, “Fontina”, “Gorgonzola” and “Munster”, new Canadian product names will have to be accompanied with expressions such as “type,” “style” or “imitation.”

For more details on trademarks and geographical indications, please see our IP Update of December 16, 2013. For further information, please contact a member of our firm’s Trademarks group.

Pharmaceutical Patent Protection – pharmaceutical companies should be aware of changes affecting the term of patent protection and changes to the procedural rights of patentees under CETA. In particular, key provisions include patent term restoration (extension) for delays in obtaining regulatory approval for pharmaceutical products, an innovator right of appeal under the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations (PMNOC Regulations), and a potential end to “dual litigation” under both the PMNOC Regulations and the Patent Act.

For more details on impact to pharmaceutical patent owners, please see our IP Updates of March 11, 2016, September 29, 2014, and November 14, 2013. For further information, please contact a member of our firm’s Pharmaceutical group.

The Way Forward

Canada has previously indicated that the treaty will come into force in 2017. The European Union plans to implement CETA on a “provisional basis” until full ratification, which requires ratification by all 28 EU countries. The full text of CETA can be found on the Government of Canada website.