A look at Canada's footprint in the world of IP


Beyond administering intellectual property (IP) rights and disseminating IP data and research, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) advocates for Canada's IP interests both domestically and internationally, advances IP harmonization and supports the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements. CIPO contributes to the effective functioning of the IP system, helping Canadian innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses grow and prosper in domestic and global markets.

IP imports and exports

Canada is a major international destination and source of IP rights. Each year, almost 160,000 applications for patents, trademarks and industrial designs are coming to CIPO from applicants around the world and from Canadian residents, and are filed in other jurisdictions by Canadians.

The graph below from CIPO's IP Canada Report 2021 shows the flow of IP applications in and out of Canada. The left side demonstrates the "flow in" of IP into Canada, while the right side demonstrates the "flow out" into other countries. As you can see, the United States and China are at the top position for both, as they are Canada's biggest trading partners. If you're planning on doing business abroad, you will need to consider how to protect your IP abroad.

Figure 1. Flow of IP applications into Canada in 2020 by origin (left) and from Canada in 2019 by destination (right)

Figure 1 - Text version

Figure 1 is a Sankey diagram that maps the flow of IP applications into Canada by origin and out of Canada by destination. The centre of the diagram shows a representation of the Canadian flag, with IP applications to Canada on the left side and IP applications from Canada on the right side. Each side shows flow bars for the top 9 filing origins or destinations, as well as a flow bar for all remaining countries combined. The width of the flow bars is proportional to the number of IP applications to or from that jurisdiction.


  • In 2022, CIPO received 39,709 patent applications, the highest number of filings since 2012
  • You can search through the patents filed in Canada on CIPO's Patents Database
  • Keep in mind that patents are usually published after 18 months
  • Canadian applicants hold the 13th place (PDF version, 189 KB, 2 pages) for most applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that provides patent protection in multiple countries through a single cost-efficient application
  • The top filing destinations for Canadians filing for patents protection abroad in 2022 were the United States, Germany, China and France

Industrial designs

  • The top international destinations for Canadian industrial design applicants in 2022 were the United States, the EU and the United Kingdom
  • In Canada, the top 10 Canadian registered industrial design proprietors are mostly in the fashion or consumer goods industries
  • Many of the companies protecting their industrial designs in Canada are foreign companies
  • Take a look at the Canadian Industrial Designs Database to see what has been filed


In 2020, 69,793 trademark applications were filed with CIPO, establishing a new record, with a 2% increase from 2019. From this total, 27,963 applications were from Canadian residents, while 41,830 were from non-residents.

According to WIPO, in Canada, trademark examiners process an average of 2,000 applications (PDF version, 189 KB, 2 pages) in a year, compared to just over 1,000 in the United States(PDF version, 193 KB, 2 pages). The top foreign destination for Canadian trademark applicants was the United States, which we can attribute to the fact that Canadians tend to expand their businesses into the United States due to the larger market there.

Over the past decade...

  • Applications for IP rights in Canada by foreign residents have grown at a steady rate (PDF version, 5.4 MB, 62 pages) of 5% for patents, 60% for trademarks and 33% for industrial designs—signaling a rise in foreign interest in the Canadian market
  • Since 2009, trademark applications filed by Canadians have increased by 139%
  • While patent filing activity decreased in Canada for resident applicants, non-resident filings have increased by 4% in the last decade

New IP initiatives in Canada

Canada has launched new initiatives to help Canadians understand the value of their IP and build IP strategies:

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