Canadian Intellectual Property Office
Five-Year Business Strategy

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Our promise

Serving with excellence and efficiency, we continuously strive to deliver timely and quality intellectual property (IP) rights to innovators, inventors, and the Canadian business community. Whether you are an individual or a multinational enterprise, our team of experts will guide you through the various forms of protection to help you realize the full potential of your own IP. Drawing on our knowledge and experience, we will work with you to increase certainty in the marketplace by protection of IP rights.



Message from the Chief Executive Officer

Photo of Johanne Bélisle

Johanne Bélisle

Commissioner of Patents,
Registrar of Trade-marks
and Chief Executive Officer

I am pleased to present the CIPO 2017–2022 Business Strategy. Our plans over the next five years are guided by a clearly articulated vision of how we can contribute to advancing innovation, the results we intend to achieve for our clients, and where we want to be as an organization.

Central to our vision is the Government of Canada's goal of making our country a global center of innovation. To achieve this, the outputs of innovation—new products and technologies—need to be protected so that they can thrive in the marketplace. IP rights not only offer this protection, but can also drive commercial success for small, medium and large enterprises, which in turn leads to positive economic effects for the whole country: the contribution of IP-intensive industries to Canada's GDP has been estimated at 25.1%, totaling $332 billionFootnote 1.

For this reason, an effective IP system—one that delivers quality and timely IP rights and improves certainty in the marketplace— is a foundational element of Canada's innovation and economic achievements.

In this regard, CIPO is an essential player in the innovation ecosystem, both in Canada and in the world. Our contribution to innovation lies not only in our efficient administration of quality IP rights, but in our expertise.

An essential part of our mandate is to inform and educate Canadians about how IP can help them grow and compete. Our goal is to work with partners to help build IP literacy in Canada and help innovators and businesses make more strategic use of IP.

On the international stage, Canada has been a tireless advocate of international harmonization, working collaboratively with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and other IP offices to make it easier for businesses to operate globally. CIPO is currently in the process of implementing five international IP treaties which will signal to the world our commitment to the effective functioning of the global system; and, on a practical level, make it easier for Canadian firms to do business abroad and to welcome foreign investment.

the contribution of IP-intensive industries to Canada's GDP has been estimated at 25.1%, totaling $332 billion

CIPO's goal is to ensure a modern, efficient and accessible IP system that is aligned with best practices internationally. We pride ourselves on being a credible, well-run and service-oriented organization—one that continually invests in our highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce, and in improving our processes and services for the benefit of our clients.

Five strategic priorities will guide our activities over the next five years. We will:

  • Help advance innovation by enhancing the IP system in Canada and globally
  • Continue to improve the quality, timeliness and efficiency of IP rights that we grant
  • Provide innovators in Canada with the IP knowledge they need to succeed
  • Offer a modern service experience that is responsive to our clients' needs
  • Foster an agile and high-performing organization

This Strategy is the result of engagement with all of our key stakeholders, and I look forward to working collaboratively to position IP as a crucial element underpinning Canada's innovation performance in a global economy.


Our strategy

Advance innovation

  • Harmonize Canada's IP system with international standards to support businesses operating globally
  • Strengthen global collaboration to advance Canadian interests
  • Modernize Canada's IP framework to support innovation

Deliver quality and timely IP rights

  • Provide IP rights and services that reflect client expectations, market needs and respect the public interest
  • Be recognized as a quality-based organization
  • Modernize our practices, processes and tools

Build IP awareness and education

  • Deliver an enhanced IP awareness and education program
  • Expand our presence and partnerships in innovation-focussed networks and communities

Offer a modern service experience

  • Provide a consistent and client-centric service experience
  • Enhance our web presence, promote self-service and improve online transactions
  • Improve access to our IP data

Foster an agile and high-performing organization

  • Attract, retain and develop a highly skilled and engaged workforce
  • Optimize our work environment and integrate new business and technological solutions
  • Strengthen management excellence


Advance innovation

In today's global economy, many of the growth industries are IP-rich and IP-intensive. Ensuring the right IP framework and incentives are in place for businesses to effectively leverage their IP at home and abroad is therefore a key contributor to Canada's economic success.

On the whole, Canada rates well on measures of IP and innovation, and we are seen as having a balanced, fair, and predictable IP system. This is important since Canada is a small open economy that receives a large number of IP applications from around the world.

Worldwide IP applications have grown nearly 70% in 10 years to more than 11 million in 2015Footnote 2, while overall global IP rights applications by Canadians grew by 35% from 2005 to 2014.Footnote 3

Because a robust IP regime is key to maximizing Canada's potential abroad, as well as attracting foreign investors, CIPO's efforts will be focussed on supporting the Government's Innovation and Skills Plan, including the development of a national IP strategy, through a strong agenda of international collaboration and evidence-based policy and program modernization.

Harmonize Canada's IP system with international standards to support businesses operating globally

Canada recognizes the importance of IP rights in building and supporting trade relationships, and is a strong supporter of increased harmonization of the global IP system.

Completing the work that will allow Canada to join five key international IP treaties is an essential step towards harmonization with other jurisdictions and will support Government initiatives to ensure Canadians take advantage of new export opportunities. Joining these treaties will help Canadian businesses looking to enter or expand their presence in international markets by providing a faster, simpler, and cost-effective way to acquire protection in multiple countries. Canada's membership in these treaties will also help create the conditions to attract foreign investment and facilitate international competitiveness and trade.

In support of Canada's International Trade and Investment Strategy, CIPO will continue to engage constructively with Canada's major trading partners and other IP offices towards the realization of transparent IP standards in trade agreements, while assisting in the implementation of agreements such as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

Strengthen the IP system through international collaboration

To ensure that Canadian businesses can grow, innovate, and succeed across international borders, partnerships are imperative to improve the functionality of the international IP system. CIPO's active international agenda will focus on working through international fora to represent Canada's interests abroad, exchanging best practices, providing technical assistance and advancing harmonization of the IP system. Over the years, CIPO has signed a number of memoranda of understanding with other IP offices and is an active participant at the World Intellectual Property Organization as well as multilateral working groups, such as Group B+ that discusses issues relating to patent law harmonization, and the Vancouver Group that explores topics including work sharing, outreach, performance reporting, and the economic evaluation of IP rights. These efforts will help to strengthen IP regimes worldwide, facilitate international expansion for Canadian businesses, and improve the quality and efficiency of the services provided by our respective offices.

Modernize Canada's IP framework to support innovation

For businesses to fully leverage the potential of IP, it is essential that the right IP framework and incentives are in place. We will continue our work with partners and stakeholders to examine IP regulations and administration to ensure that the system benefits both clients and the public interest, while contributing to the ease of doing business. Through our long-standing collaboration with the IP professional community and associations, we strive to serve the interests of innovators and businesses.

Our national IP framework must also be responsive to Canada's specific socio-economic and innovation context. Enhanced in-house research capabilities, together with an emphasis on collaborative enquiry into IP issues with the Canadian and international research and policy community will better inform policy decisions that support innovation and economic success. These lines of enquiry will be aligned with the Government's focus on innovation-intensive industries that will boost Canada's global competitiveness. A strong evidence base comprised of timely and accurate IP analysis will also assist innovators in making decisions that affect the strategic direction of their business.


Advance innovation

Canada's IP framework must drive innovation and foster an environment for businesses to grow, both domestically and abroad. We commit to working with our partners to create an IP regime that makes it easier for businesses and innovators to develop, protect and commercialize their ideas.

Defining success

  • Businesses operating globally have access to international IP rights
  • Canada's IP system is modern and serves innovation, business and the public interest

What we will do

Harmonize Canada's IP system with international standards to support businesses operating globally

  • Join the Madrid Protocol, Hague Agreement, Patent Law Treaty, Singapore Treaty, and Nice Agreement by 2019

Strengthen global collaboration to advance Canadian interests

  • Support the advancement of Canada's international trade and investment priorities
  • Continue ongoing international IP office collaboration and harmonization
  • Provide technical assistance and share best practices with other IP offices

Modernize Canada's IP framework to support innovation

  • Identify improvement opportunities to increase the ease of doing business and improve certainty
  • Produce IP analytics to inform innovation in key sectors, markets and technologies
  • Publish an annual economic research plan

Deliver quality and timely IP rights

The timely issuance of quality IP protection supports a well-functioning market and contributes to a business environment that cultivates new ideas, technologies, services and products. Innovators and businesses entering new markets want to know that the value of their innovation is recognized and protected. It is vital to creating certainty in the marketplace and enhancing the ability of a business to secure financing or attract investment.

We take great pride in the quality and timeliness of the IP rights we grant and register. This is the core of our business. In conformance with Canada's IP laws, we strive to meet the needs of our clients through an ongoing commitment to continuous process improvement, clear quality criteria and transparent service standards.

Provide IP rights that reflect client expectations, market needs and respect the public interest

Over the past few years, we have significantly improved turnaround times and worked to embed quality into our processes and practices. Over the next five years, we will continue improving quality and timeliness, and better engage with our clients and stakeholders on service improvements.

The decision and process to obtain an IP right is influenced by many factors, including the complexity of the application and the client's business strategies. For example, for patents, some clients require faster examination processes while others opt for a longer examination time to gain insight about the commercial or competitive landscape. To better serve the particular needs of our clients, we will increase awareness of the various means to fast-track applications, including special orders, the use of the Patent Prosecution Highway, or accelerated examination for green environmental technologies.

Be recognized as a quality-based organization

Consistency and the continuous improvement of our processes are fundamental to ensuring that our clients receive quality IP protection.

We will obtain certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 9001:2015) for our Patent Branch in early 2017. Building on this success, we will implement an organization-wide quality management system for all of our business lines that will further our efforts to be responsive to our clients' needs while making constant improvement to our service quality and cost-effectiveness.

Quality remains at the heart of what we do. Through these efforts, we will ensure that CIPO continues to issue the quality rights that our clients have come to expect.

Modernize our practices, processes and tools

CIPO strives to ensure that its administrative practices are up to date, consistent with and reflective of changing legislation, regulations and current jurisprudence. Once we have completed the work to implement the five international IP treaties, CIPO will be able to provide clients with greater flexibility and simplified filing requirements. For example, under the Patent Law Treaty, patent applicants will have to comply with fewer administrative requirements. Specifically, paying a filing fee for the purposes of establishing a filing date will no longer be required; clients will also be allowed to submit their application in a language other than English or French, thereby avoiding upfront translation costs.

We are also working to streamline processes, modernize our tools and gain operational efficiencies, while lessening the administrative burden on clients. A number of initiatives are ongoing, such as digitizing trademark and industrial design files, and identifying ways to reduce the average number of reports per patent granted. We have had some success in the past few years using Lean methodology to streamline operations and will continue these efforts through our Lean Centre of Excellence.

Our efforts to issue quality and timely IP rights are reinforced by the partnerships we maintain with leading IP offices in other countries to share and implement best practices. In addition, we will continue to establish client service and performance standards that are responsive to clients' needs and expectations.



Deliver quality and timely IP rights

The timely issuance of quality IP rights is vital to increasing certainty in the marketplace and stimulating growth. Through leading quality management practices, CIPO endeavours to continuously improve how we do business in order to provide our clients with IP rights that can be confidently exploited.

Defining success

  • Clients have confidence in their IP rights
  • CIPO's practices and processes keep pace with jurisprudence
  • CIPO has clear service commitments that provide certainty for clients

What we will do

Provide IP rights and services that reflect client expectations, market needs and respect the public interest

  • Consult with clients and stakeholders on service standards and service improvements
  • Increase awareness of CIPO's accelerated examination processes
  • Reduce turnaround times and improve operational performance

Be recognized as a quality-based organization

  • Engage and collaborate with clients and stakeholders in defining IP quality
  • Develop quality indicators, tools and checklists to improve client service
  • Implement an organization-wide quality management system and obtain ISO certification for the Patent Branch

Modernize our practices, processes and tools

  • Update office practices to align with evolving legislation, regulations and jurisprudence
  • Build and strengthen partnerships with leading IP offices to benchmark and align ourselves with best practices
  • Establish processes that promote efficiency and continuous improvement, and equip employees with modern work tools

Build IP awareness and education

Improving IP literacy in Canada is a key enabler of innovation, and responds to challenges recognized in the Government of Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan.

Research shows that Canadian businesses face various challenges related to IP, including cost, complexity and a lack of support. In particular, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have low awareness of IP, which can inhibit business growth, scale-up and global competitiveness. Underutilized IP translates into potential lost business opportunities, while fully leveraged IP rights can open the door to new business partnerships— through its sale or licensing for example—creating new opportunities for growth and encouraging new investments.

In addition, the many players across the innovation ecosystem must be well equipped to offer informed advice to businesses about how to build IP into their business and growth strategies.

Over the last few years, we have worked to better understand the needs and barriers facing innovators and businesses in Canada, and to build overall awareness. But we believe that much more can be done to build IP literacy in Canada by working in partnership with business and academic organizations and others.

Enhanced awareness and education program and partnerships

Our goal is to ensure that businesses have a sound understanding of intellectual property and can better utilize and leverage their IP assets as part of their business and growth strategies. We will focus on priority high-growth sectors and technology clusters, high potential SMEs as well as key markets.

To extend our reach, we will embed and integrate our service offerings and IP information within the programs and services offered by the federal government and other partners in the innovation ecosystem. We are already working with organizations such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program, universities and business associations.

Through our IP for Business and IP Academy programs, we will deliver seminars and webinars, IP training for our partners, and produce a suite of online information products and tools, such as IP Basics and IP Strategy, and guides for those seeking IP in export markets. A particular effort will be made to deliver an IP Hub, a virtual suite of networked services and information sources for innovators.

With our small team of IP advisors located in various parts of the country, we will deliver information sessions and connect with innovators and businesses in sectors and regions that are known as, or have the potential to be, hotbeds of innovation.


Build IP awareness and education

Our aim is to ensure that IP is better understood by Canadians and is more strategically used as an integral part of innovation and business success. CIPO is committed to increasing IP awareness by delivering tailored and responsive products, services and training in collaboration with our partners and networks across Canada and around the world.

Defining success

  • Canadian innovators and businesses are more aware of the value of IP, and are better equipped to make informed decisions about their IP strategy
  • Players in the innovation ecosystem in Canada are more aware of the strategic use of IP

What we will do

Deliver an enhanced IP awareness and education program

  • IP for Business: deliver a suite of products and services designed to provide businesses with the tools and information they need to better acquire, manage and leverage their IP assets
  • IP Academy: deliver a suite of seminars and training services for businesses, partners and intermediaries including those for particular markets and sectors
  • IP Hub: deliver and support a suite of networked services including referral, consultation and support to advisory services

Expand our presence and partnerships in innovation-focused networks and communities

  • Focus efforts on innovation-focussed communities/clusters to better support high-potential SMEs in key markets and sectors
  • Strengthen networks and partnerships for the delivery of IP information, programs and services
  • Help our partners embed IP considerations into existing programs and services for innovators and businesses
  • Market our tools and services through multiple touch points using a variety of platforms to broaden our reach

Offer a modern service experience

As the regulator of IP in Canada, we have established a reputation for the quality of our operations and our client service. We are constantly improving the way we work with the goal of providing a consistently excellent service experience. Over the next five years, we will be implementing a service strategy that will put the Government of Canada's priority on service into action and that will ensure that the service clients receive is e-enabled, timely and accessible.

CIPO's service strategy is guided by the following principles and goals:


  • Client-centric
  • Collaboration and partnership
  • E-enabled
  • Effective and efficient


  1. To develop a consistent service experience across channels, services, and products
  2. To develop or improve key foundational elements for delivering quality services
  3. To raise awareness and encourage innovators to better exploit IP
  4. To equip and empower employees to deliver services with excellence and efficiency
  5. To expand communications and reach through increased collaboration with partners

Provide a consistent and client-centric service experience

Our Service Strategy lays out a plan to make significant improvements in how we design and deliver our services and ultimately improve access to Canada's IP rights system. Emphasis will be placed on better understanding our clients' needs and expectations when it comes to their interactions with CIPO, and improving service delivery accordingly. This client-driven approach will be supported by a client satisfaction program that will regularly gather feedback on our services and guide our service improvement plans and priorities.

We will strengthen relationships with our clients and manage our interactions through the implementation of a new digital platform that will enable us to communicate directly about our services, invite and register clients to events, keep track of their preferences, and solicit their feedback.

Our workforce is dedicated to delivering quality and timely IP rights for our clients. We will implement a service excellence training program that will empower employees to deliver quality service and use their expertise to help clients succeed.

Improve digital services

CIPO has interactions every day with business-savvy, sophisticated, and innovative clients that operate in an e-enabled world. We plan to offer new digital services over the next five years that will improve our clients' ability to search, apply for, and manage their IP online.

In terms of the application or registration process, clients will be able to apply online for industrial design and trademark protection in multiple jurisdictions with a single application under The Hague Agreement and Madrid Protocol, once those treaties are fully implemented in 2019.

We plan to modernize our online e-filing services so that they are fully integrated with our back-office system. Clients will see improved service, including more secure document handling and faster confirmation that CIPO has received patent applications. Managing IP portfolios will be made easier through a secure one-stop shop that will provide centralized access to all our services with comprehensive profile and portfolio management capabilities. Clients will have access to view and act on the status and progress of their IP case files, and set up alerts and notifications to monitor CIPO news, events and IP case information.

More powerful search capabilities will be introduced providing fast and efficient access to IP information while expanding search functionalities to store and reuse search queries and perform image searching of design elements.

Sharing knowledge by improving access to IP data

The basis of IP systems is that creators can exclude others from profiting from their creative innovations for a limited amount of time. In exchange, they must release information about the innovation so that invention and creativity can be further enhanced. To service this knowledge sharing, CIPO's online databases contain valuable technical and business information that can make an important contribution to innovation performance. Through these databases, we provide clients with access to the information that can help them add value to their business—from better-informed decision making and market analysis to identifying opportunities for follow-on innovation, collaboration and licensing. As the modernization of our online IP databases advances, clients will benefit from expanded search functionalities, access to newly searchable IP data collections, more online services for accessing bulk data, and new tools and data products to support research and analysis.


Offer a modern service experience

CIPO is committed to fostering a culture of service excellence. We understand that clients expect us to work in ways that make sense from their perspective, not ours. We will strive to design and deliver services that are client-centric and e-enabled; and to provide an integrated client service experience. We will improve the accessibility of the IP application process as well as the IP data and knowledge it generates.

Defining success

  • Consistent client experience interactions across all channels
  • Clients have digital access to CIPO products, services and IP data
  • Clients report an increased level of satisfaction

What we will do

Provide a consistent and client-centric service experience

  • Launch a client satisfaction and feedback program
  • Promote a culture of service excellence
  • Develop a consistent and e-enabled service experience across channels, products and services

Enhance our web presence, promote self-service and improve online transactions

  • Launch an online, self-service window to manage IP applications and assets
  • Provide end-to-end digital service offerings for IP rights management transactions
  • Implement new digital solutions to allow clients to file international applications under the Hague Agreement and Madrid Protocol by 2019
  • Enhance patent e-filing application

Improve access to our IP data

  • Increase online access to IP data, documents and information holdings
  • Enhance the functionality and search capability of CIPO databases

Foster an agile and high-performing organization

A constant and rapid pace of change requires an organization to be both agile and high-performing. As Canada's centre of IP expertise, our success lies in our ability to keep abreast of the evolving innovation landscape and in turn be responsive to the changing needs and expectations of our clients. At the same time, we have a responsibility to ensure that our workforce is engaged and productive, that our organization is well managed and that we demonstrate sound stewardship of our resources.

Attract, engage and inspire talent

At CIPO, our staff is our most valuable and valued resource. Our people strategy is founded on a robust, multi-year strategic human resources plan designed to anticipate future skills and workforce requirements. It puts forward our recruitment and employee development efforts that aim to maintain a diverse, bilingual, engaged and competent workforce representing a high level of expertise in fields ranging from engineering, science and technology, to law, policy and economic analysis. Lastly, it presents our efforts to offer a productive, collaborative and modern work environment.

Like many organizations, we are dealing with a generational shift in our workforce. As a result, it will be important to attract, develop and retain the employees of tomorrow. Not only will we need new highly trained patent, trademark and industrial design examiners, but we will require a diversity of skills, ranging from technology-savvy employees to implement our IT modernization plan, to knowledgeable IP experts who can reach out to businesses and innovators to support them on their IP journey. Continued investments will be made to develop the skills and talents of our people, including opportunities for cross-organizational experiences and learning, and the development of leadership competencies.

Provide an inclusive and productive work environment

We take pride in providing a workplace that encourages work-life balance, offering telework and other alternative work arrangements, when operational requirements allow. Our IT modernization plan includes significant improvements to our infrastructure that will streamline workflows and provide staff with modern work tools, including integrated IP case management, business intelligence, and client relationship management software platforms. We will also initiate an accommodation modernization plan that will provide updated and more collaborative workspaces in line with the Government of Canada's workplace renewal initiatives.

To better serve our clients with a capable, confident and high-performing workforce, CIPO endeavours to provide a healthy and inclusive work environment where employees feel respected and valued. We foster a bilingual work environment with ongoing opportunities for second-language learning. Our commitment to inclusion and diversity is underscored by tapping into and reflecting Canada's diversity by recruiting from a range of talent pools in Canada.

Strengthen management excellence and sound stewardship

As a special operating agency of the Government of Canada, CIPO's operations are financed entirely by revenues from our clients and we have enhanced responsibilities for the management of our resources and accountability for results.

Accordingly, we are committed to prudent management to ensure that our resource capacity is growing effectively and sustainably while fulfilling our obligations to clients in the most efficient and effective way possible. Repeated audits show that CIPO has a sound financial management control framework that is operating as intended in areas such as financial roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, managing internal controls, budget allocation and monitoring.

To ensure ongoing, sound financial management over the next five years, we will optimally utilize our resources. The implementation of Lean methodologies is steadily improving our cost-effectiveness and the development of a quality management system will assure the continued quality of our services. Together we are cultivating a culture of continuous improvement where employees are empowered to think of ways to work better and deliver value to our clients.

Finally, as the implementation of our multi-year IT modernization plan progresses, we are making significant investments in both client-facing and internal infrastructure, giving us greater capacity to deliver services online. We anticipate, over the longer term, that these investments will translate into efficiencies and ever improving service to clients.


Foster an agile and high-performing organization

Our highly skilled, diverse and inclusive workforce is what makes us a high-performing and agile organization. We will ensure that CIPO is equipped to deliver Canada's IP rights and services today and into the future while ensuring sound stewardship and transparency in the achievement and communication of results.

Defining success

  • CIPO's workforce has the skills and knowledge to effectively administer IP in an evolving innovation landscape
  • CIPO fosters a workplace that promotes respect, inclusiveness, and well-being
  • CIPO has new tools and technology that supports a high performing organization
  • CIPO demonstrates sound stewardship in the management of its resources

What we will do

Attract, retain, and develop a highly skilled and engaged workforce

  • Enhance recruitment efforts and inclusion by targeting diverse talent pools in Canada
  • Create new opportunities for learning and development
  • Promote leadership competencies and encourage employees to find innovative solutions

Optimize our work environment and integrate new business and technological solutions

  • Leverage new technologies to improve operations and create efficiencies
  • Modernize the work environment to support a collaborative and mobile workforce

Strengthen management excellence

  • Ensure sound financial stewardship
  • Deliver a well-governed and cost effective IT modernization plan
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement and enterprise adoption of process improvement methodologies