The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), along with intellectual property (IP) agents and their professional associations, play a key role in the IP landscape. This landscape is rapidly evolving both in Canada and abroad. As the importance of IP continues to grow, CIPO is committed to modernizing Canada's IP system to improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
Beginning in the summer of 2012, CIPO engaged in a series of roundtables aimed at providing insight into the needs and behaviours of Canadian small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so that it can continue to support innovation in Canada. Participants in these discussions consistently emphasized the need for simple, clear information on how to navigate the IP system. This initiative is set against the backdrop of recognizing that the general level of IP awareness in Canada should be increased.
1.1 Background to the initiative
The IP agent community and their associations have had a long-standing relationship with CIPO. Last summer, the Modernizing the IP Community initiative was launched as a collaborative effort to explore three specific areas considered to warrant attention. CIPO, the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC), the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI), and the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) jointly developed the Project Charter (Appendix A) and invited volunteers from the IP community to work together to make recommendations on:
- the maintenance and oversight of the register/list of trademark and patent agents;
- the qualification and maintenance of patent and trademark agents on the register/list; and
- a values and ethics framework for trademark and patent agents in prosecuting applications before CIPO.
Co-chairs selected members from among the volunteers and formed separate working groups, each tasked with considering one of the three projects. Since the first plenary meeting on October 22, 2013, each group held regular meetings to advance work on their project. A second plenary meeting followed in February 2014. Meetings were either held in person at CIPO or via teleconference or videoconference.
Throughout this initiative, the following key principles from the Project Charter have guided our work:
- CIPO and IP professionals should work collaboratively to develop recommendations and options,
- the focus should be on the needs of customers, innovators and businesses,
- proposed recommendations and options should benefit from best practices in other professions and jurisdictions.