The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) recently issued its "IP Canada Report 2016", which discusses trends in IP use domestically and by Canadians abroad. It is based on an analysis of CIPO's internal data and data collected by the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

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

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

The domestic share of patent and industrial design applications filed with 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 with CIPO, respectively, whereas Canadian residents filed 43% of the trademark applications received by CIPO.

Although patent filings in Canada rose 4% between 2014 and 2015, they remain 12% below their 2006 peak. In comparison, trademark filings by Canadian residents rose 13% since 2006 and filings by non-residents rose 19% in the same period. CIPO expects international trademark applications to increase over the next five years as Canada prepares to join the Madrid Protocol. Like trademarks, industrial design filings rose 21% from 2006 to 2015.

With respect to outgoing filings, from 2005 to 2014 overall global IP rights applications by Canadians rose 35%. Of those applications, 56% were for patents, 40% for trademarks and 4% for industrial designs.

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

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

Shorter pendency times are reported for patents, trademarks and industrial designs. For instance, the pendency time for patents in 2012 was 86.7 months, whereas in 2015 it was 82.8 months ‒ a reduction of approximately 4.5%. Significantly, fully half of the pendency time results from the 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 were removed from Canadian law, pendency times could be halved; however, there would be a backlog of work at CIPO and fewer opportunities to take advantage of foreign prosecution results.

The report also mentions Taylor Wessing's Global Intellectual Property Index Fifth Report in which the UK law firm 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. Taylor Wessing's report and its rating methodology are worth reviewing in detail. For instance, Canada jumped from thirteenth to sixth place in patents, and the report postulates that this pertains to Canada's reputation as a good jurisdiction in which to challenge patent validity, particularly in the life sciences field. Whether this is a strength of the patent system is a matter of opinion.

For further information on this topic please contact David Schwartz at Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh by telephone (+1 613 232 2486) or email ([email protected]). The Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh website can be accessed at