2020-2021 Annual Report
Message from the CEO

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Photo of Konstantinos Georgaras, CIPO's Chief Executive Officer (Interim)
Konstantinos Georgaras
Chief Executive Officer (interim)

It is my pleasure to present the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)'s Annual Report for 2020−2021. This past year will be forever remembered as the year that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our world. It will also be remembered as a year in which many across the intellectual property (IP) ecosystem demonstrated resilience and innovation. It affected CIPO's operations and the lives of our employees in so many ways, yet we persevered. Led by dedication and professionalism, we faced the pandemic and its challenges by being agile and maintaining focus on our core mandate of delivering quality and timely IP rights.

Despite its challenges, 2020−2021 was also a year of great opportunity and creativity. The pandemic required us to innovate, rethink how we do our work, and transform the way we do business. As the majority of our workforce shifted to working remotely, we quickly adapted to a new environment, implemented new tools and processes, and continued to provide uninterrupted IP services to our clients.

This past year also demonstrated the importance of working closely with clients, businesses, professional associations, international counterparts, and across federal and provincial agencies. This exemplary level of collaboration with partners helped us gain important insights on evolving challenges, share best practices and collectively navigate through uncertain times. Our response was made stronger through this deep collaboration with our partners.

We took many immediate and innovative approaches to address the challenges at hand. To support our clients, we implemented the designated days provision which effectively suspended most deadlines so that clients could maintain their IP rights during unprecedented economic disruption. As innovators and businesses worked toward solutions to the pandemic, CIPO introduced pilots to accelerate the IP administrative process for COVID-19-related products and services, and to encourage follow-on innovation in support of the global response. Likewise, many of our services moved to virtual platforms to continue operations, for example, trademarks opposition hearings were conducted entirely through video and teleconference. When our regional mailrooms closed, most of our clients were able to immediately turn to CIPO's e-services and transacted business online. Almost overnight, CIPO went from receiving correspondence primarily in the form of paper, to receiving over 90% in electronic form. Throughout the year, innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses continued to have access to IP information and resources as CIPO pivoted its IP awareness and education content to digital service delivery. To ensure clients had the support they needed, we introduced several new digital services to increase access to the Office. For example, we introduced a chat function on the CIPO "Contact us" web page, via which clients can get answers to their IP-related questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also made it easier for clients to correspond with the Office by introducing a new e-correspondence service for trademark and Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications.

While COVID-19 may have dominated everyone's immediate attention in 20202021, we did not lose sight of our longer-term Business Strategy goals and we made significant progress on advancing innovation and modernizing the IP framework. Following the implementation of 5 international IP treaties, CIPO continued to modernize Canada's IP system, notably through regulatory changes, and to assist in establishing the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents. We regularly communicated with our international partners, sharing vital information and best practices to ensure the continued functioning of the international IP system and to maintain the best possible service for CIPO clients and Canadians. CIPO also supported innovation by providing access to high-quality IP data and research that equip businesses with the intelligence to ideate, explore opportunities to grow, and increase their competitiveness. In collaboration with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, CIPO virtually hosted the 4th Annual IP Data & Research Conference, focusing on IP and economic growth.

This year also saw the departure of my predecessor, Johanne Bélisle on , as she completed her 5-year term. During her term as chief executive officer, CIPO charted a 5-year business strategy that aligned the organization to better support innovation, enhanced its awareness and education initiatives, introduced client-centric approaches and implemented key treaties. We would like to acknowledge Johanne's contributions to CIPO and we will continue to build on CIPO's long-term track record of accomplishments.

The impacts of the pandemic and its restrictions have affected us all and has fundamentally changed our lives and the way we work. When I reflect on what CIPO accomplished in 2020−2021, I am struck by the resiliency and adaptability of CIPO's employees and grateful for the deep collaboration with partners. In a matter of a few months, we achieved transformations that would have normally taken much longer. Looking ahead, we are laying the groundwork for the CIPO of the future, a modern office that is an integral part of the IP ecosystem, digitally enabled and continues to foster innovation and success for Canadians.

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Aussi offert en français sous le titre Rapport annuel 2020-2021.