On 21 April 2015, the Federal Government of Canada tabled its budget, which was later than usual as the Government dealt with the impact of the recent decline in world oil price. This budget contained one item that directly impacts the IP profession and IP owners, since the Government has committed to amend the Patent Act, Trade-marks Act and Industrial Design Act to provide patent and trade mark agents with statutory privilege for their confidential communications.
The Government triumphs this proposal as a measure that will place Canada on equal footing with other common law countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. For many years, the jurisprudence from Canada’s Federal Court has resulted in communications between patent applicants and their counsel not necessarily being protected from disclosure unless the communications satisfied the test for privilege, such as solicitor-client privilege or common law privilege. These proposed changes have been the subject of many discussions between the profession and the Government.
The Government also announced changes to extend key deadlines in cases of force majeureevents, such as floods or ice storms that disrupt business operations.
While the actual legislative changes have yet to be proposed and brought into force, this budget announcement is a critical starting point to the process for such amendments that will add clarity to these issues for the profession and IP owners.