2020-2021 Annual Report
Offering a modern service experience

CIPO aims to provide a service experience that is seamless, digitally enabled, and designed to meet clients' needs. Through the implementation of our Service Strategy, CIPO embarked on a journey to transform how it delivers services by putting clients at the centre of service design and engaging them at every stage of the service experience.

A user-centric approach to services

Building on the momentum of service improvement initiatives already under way and in light of the Government of Canada's commitment to modernize and optimize service delivery, CIPO aligned its Service Strategy to put the client's perspective at the centre of service design and delivery.

Delivering a modern service experience requires an understanding of our clients' varying and sometimes unique expectations. In 2020−2021, CIPO sought to better understand the nuances among key customer segments and assess their experiences interacting with CIPO over the course of their IP journey. This research helped identify enhancements to the client experience, particularly with respect to digital service. Having identified contacts within each customer segment, we were able to effectively engage users of specific products and services and tap into their experience. The intelligence gathered will feed service design and workflows, and modernize how clients interact with CIPO online.

As CIPO continues to transition from paper to digital processes, understanding the technology used by IP firms is a key consideration informing the technical requirements and successful transformation of patent e-services. About 98% of patent applications received at CIPO are represented by a patent agent. In 2020−2021, CIPO consulted with 12 IP firms to capture their technical needs, ensuring that future e-services are designed in a way that meets both the needs of users and CIPO.

CIPO also launched an initiative to explore how our Patent Branch and PAB could transform their operations and leverage information technology (IT) systems. Through a combination of business analyses and consultations with clients, IP agents and CIPO employees, key insights were identified that will ensure new processes and IT products are prioritized and designed through a user-centric lens.

To further instill a service culture for examiners and operational staff, service excellence concepts and principles were embedded in the training for all employees, directly supporting the delivery of their unique products and services.

CIPO's Service Strategy goals:

  1. Continue to build a culture of service excellence
  2. Design an optimal IP journey that meets clients' needs
  3. Iteratively deliver digital service improvements that clients need the most
  4. Manage IP data and insights as an asset and continuously act on feedback

Modernizing our service delivery

With a majority of CIPO employees and clients working remotely, it was imperative to find new and digitally-enabled ways to both receive applications and administer IP rights. In 2020−2021, CIPO automated the processing of trademark applications and renewal requests submitted via the trademark e-filing system. These new processes allowed the Office to issue correspondence acknowledging receipt of the application or renewal request almost immediately after filing via email. CIPO also introduced a new e-correspondence service for trademark and PCT applications, allowing clients to submit a variety of correspondences electronically—including biological sequence listings as part of the PCT—as an alternative to facsimile or postal mail. We are seeking to expand these e-correspondence services to additional types of trademark transactions, responses to remission letters, and outgoing PCT correspondences from the office to clients.

In March 2021, CIPO launched an e-grant system, making us the first IP office in the world to issue entirely electronic patents. With this new electronic issuance process, clients who are granted a patent are advised via email or regular mail that their patent has been issued and that their documents—including their patent certificate sealed with a digital signature—are available for download. This e-grant system provides our clients a modern and e-enabled service experience and greatly reduces CIPO's paper usage and environmental impact. To put it in perspective, CIPO sends out on average 21,000 patent packages in a year, totalling approximately a million pages.

In response to client suggestions, the file names of patent letters sent to clients electronically now include the application number. Clients are now better able to upload, sort and manage letters in their own system.

In 2020−2021, CIPO launched a new chat service on its "Contact us" web page. The chatbot is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer the most commonly asked IP questions. During business hours, live agents are on stand-by to respond to client enquiries should the chatbot not be able to provide answers.

In accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Directive on the Business Number, CIPO is now collecting the Business Number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency for client enquiries via telephone and online. As we modernize our internal systems and start collecting the Business Number for other digital IP transactions, the Business Number will become a single identifier for clients to access their digital IP portfolios.

Our patent web pages

To make IP content easier to find, understand and use, CIPO redesigned and optimized a number of its patent web pages. A number of additions and updates were also made to our trademarks online resources—including the Madrid Examination and Procedures Manual and the Madrid eFiling Practical Guide—helping clients better understand the Madrid System in Canada.

Image of a CIPO web page before and after

A new look for CIPO's certificates!

CIPO's certificates for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and copyrights now feature a refreshed and more professional look and feel. With the exception of the Canada 150 certificates that were issued in 2017, CIPO certificates had the same look for close to 30 years!