Message from the Chief Executive Officer
CIPO continues to play a key role in implementing the Government of Canada's agenda to enhance economic growth and competitiveness by issuing intellectual property (IP) rights. We help disseminate new knowledge to promote innovation across Canada and around the world.
With the launch of the Business Strategy in 2012, CIPO renewed its commitment to effectively support innovators and the innovation cycle in Canada, while achieving exemplary operational performance.
Our goals and objectives set out in 2012 were ambitious, and the work still to be done is extensive. However, we continue to be inspired by innovation and are committed to success. This commitment has resulted in some notable accomplishments.
Each year, CIPO conducts an environmental scan to ensure we are ready to respond to any new realities while improving organizational performance and service to customers.
- CIPO has a better understanding of the IP needs of its customers and is evaluating several potential new services to provide quick and easily accessible assistance and information during the pre-application, application and post-grant phases.
- There is a strong Government commitment to modernize Canada's IP agenda by implementing international treaties.
- CIPO is supporting innovation by working to align the IP framework with international practices and reducing burden on businesses.
- CIPO's current human resources structure is stable with few employment equity gaps and a robust internal pool of future leadership talent.
- The organization is in good financial health. Benefiting from a stable revenue base, CIPO is committed to making the necessary investments to successfully implement the Business Strategy.
Getting to know our customers
In launching the Business Strategy, CIPO sought to improve its ability to connect with its customers. To do this, we needed to learn exactly who those customers were and what they needed from us.
To do this, we:
- held roundtable discussions with stakeholders, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), technology transfer offices and clients of the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program;
- visited numerous businesses
- began improving existing services such as the Bank of Speakers and IP Case Studies;
- took advantage of social media tools to create channels for increased two-way communication; and
- began to improve our online services, providing clients with new self-serve options.
Redefining working relationship
We are also redefining our working relationship with IP agents with the creation of three joint working groups. Each group is chaired by a CIPO representative and an agent. The goal is to examine options for improving collaboration.
In October 2014, the working groups together issued a single report entitled, "Modernizing the IP Community". The report features 11 recommendations, focused on:
- the maintenance and oversight of the lists of trademark and patent agents;
- the qualification and development of patent and trademark agents; and
- a values and ethics framework for trademark and patent agents.
CIPO is now in the process of identifying which recommendations would be best suited to implement in the near-term. The goal is to ensure that Canada has a modern framework to guide the IP professions, and that Canadian IP business interests are well served.
Aligning with international best practices
CIPO continues to actively engage with foreign IP offices and international organizations to address common IP issues and share information on best practices and policies. We have collaborated with several of these offices in the development of international patent work-sharing initiatives to accelerate patent examination.
We also lead Canada's participation in the Intellectual Property Rights Experts Group, which offers the opportunity to develop alliances with our Asia-Pacific counterparts.
Gaining access to the legislative agenda
The Government continues to place emphasis on IP issues in its legislative agenda. On January 27, 2014, five key international IP treaties were tabled in Parliament which aim to harmonize and simplify procedures across multiple jurisdictions: the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty, the Nice Agreement, the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague Agreement.
Amendments to the Patent Act, Trade-marks Act and Industrial Design Act are necessary for Canada to ratify these treaties. The required changes to the Trade-marks Act received royal assent on June 19, 2014. Royal assent for the Patent Act and the Industrial Design Act was received on December 16, 2014.
CIPO's primary focus is our customers and delivering value to them. This is evident in the six strategic pillars that support the Business Strategy, and the objectives under each.
Feedback gathered throughout the 2013 consultations consistently pointed to four key challenges that prevent businesses from making the best use of intellectual property (IP):
- Lack of IP awareness: Businesses lack the information they need to increase their understanding of IP and to inform their IP strategy.
- Complexity: Obtaining IP rights and developing IP strategies due to the complexity of IP laws is challenging.
- Cost: Costs of obtaining and enforcing IP rights are high.
- Timeliness: The process to obtain IP rights is too slow.
In order to reduce these barriers, CIPO has identified several new potential services. In the coming year, we will be working towards implementing those services. For example, CIPO will introduce a number of online tools to support IP-strategy development by SMEs as part of their business planning process. These tools will help address the lack of IP knowledge among the SME community, and will better equip them to manage the complexity of the IP system.
We will also expand our regional presence in hubs across the country, enabling us to work more closely with our customers at the local level.
Access to Innovative Knowledge
"Access to Innovative Knowledge" is focused on making CIPO's extensive data available to customers in a meaningful way. Our inventory of data is delivered and integrated into international databases to improve access and contribute to global intellectual property resources for innovators. CIPO will continue to address the needs and expectations of its customers, ensuring maximum capability of the search tools.
In addition, CIPO will produce IP analytics reports. These reports will provide valuable data to our internal and external stakeholders to better inform their business decisions.
Modern IP Framework
Activities under "Modern IP Framework" centre around ensuring Canada's IP laws and regulations are aligned with international best practices. The tabling of the five treaties is a major step that has created opportunities for CIPO to advance its work in this area. However, much remains to be done prior to the treaties' coming into force.
Work related to implementing all five treaties is under way. CIPO continues to consult with stakeholders as the various laws and the accompanying regulations are amended.
Highly Skilled Workforce
CIPO is dedicated to excellence and providing value. To achieve this, it is essential to Canada’s economic success that we have a workforce that understands the innovation benefits of intellectual property. Activities under this pillar are designed to support employees while building their knowledge and, in turn, contributing to the organization’s goal of improving service to our clients. CIPO has developed a learning program and learning blocks that achieve all this. In addition, a leadership program and talent management exercise have also been implemented.
A focus is being made on developing career paths to ensure employees remain experts in their field, as well as to build their knowledge and skills across other lines of business. This will help to provide better service to clients, as well as continue to foster a positive work environment for employees at every level.
Responsive IT Infrastructure
Activities focus on ensuring CIPO has responsive information technology systems in place which support its ability to encourage innovation and respond to the IP community’s business needs. These systems will be ready when the various treaties come into force.
In addition, we must ensure sufficient IT support in order to provide customers with access to CIPO’s data and to carry out other Business Strategy initiatives. We continue to provide customers with new and improved online services and capabilities. These services will allow customers to access their payment history or sign up for an electronic bill payment system.
We also launched a new trademarks eFiling system in 2013–2014. The system has streamlined and simplified the application process, resulting in faster processing times and more flexibility in the application process.
Activities in this area are designed to ensure CIPO provides quality IP rights in a timely and cost-effective manner. The implementation of a "Lean" continuous process improvement methodology is enabling our efforts to be more efficient and deliver value for customers, with significant results already realized.
For example, one project was designed to simplify the incoming application process to minimize the movement of files and reduce errors. Initial results have yielded an improvement in the handling of files from the mailroom to patent scanning, including fee validation, from 300 hours to 24 hours. Models are currently being developed in order to more accurately forecast and manage production capacity.
Going forward, we are closely examining our end-to-end processes with the expectation of improving the processes by streamlining the steps necessary to ensure customers receive quality IP rights.
We are now completing the third year of the Business Strategy and there is much to celebrate. With some notable accomplishments already under our belt, I am confident we will meet our goals and achieve measurable results for Canadian businesses and consumers.