File a Canadian patent application: Before you start


1. Before you start

This application process is for applying for a patent in Canada.

Before you apply for a patent application, you need to:

Learn about what can be patented

To be patentable, your invention must be new, useful and innovative:

  • New—your invention is the first of its kind in the world.
  • Useful—your invention works or has a useful function.
  • Innovative—your invention is a new development or an improvement of an existing technology that would not have been obvious to someone working in your area of specialty.

To be granted a patent, your invention must be:

  • a product (example: a door lock)
  • a composition (example: a chemical composition used in lubricants for door locks)
  • a machine (example: a machine for making door locks)
  • a process (example: a method for making door locks)
  • an improvement on any of these

Learn more about patents

Do your research

Search patent databases

Search patent databases to find out if your invention (or a similar one) has been patented already.

Search for existing and pending patents using the following:

Search other databases

For some fields, non-patent databases may be even more important. Search other relevant databases with information about the field of the invention.

  • Biotechnology patent applications: MEDLINE
  • Electrical applications: IEEE

Determine if you need to hire a patent agent

You must hire a patent agent if:

  • the application is filed by someone other than the inventor
  • there is more than 1 inventor and the application is not filed jointly by all of the inventors
  • a transfer of the application had been recorded with the office

Find a licensed patent agent

Why you should hire an agent even if you aren't required to

Preparing and filing a patent application is not easy and can be time consuming. Think about hiring a licensed patent agent to help you. Patent agents understand patent and intellectual property laws and the application process.

Make sure your patent agent is licensed.

If you use an agent

You can help your agent get the strongest possible patent while avoiding unnecessary costs by preparing a statement that includes the following information about your invention:

  • Field of invention
  • Broad description
  • Objectives: Main practical advantages over existing practices or products
  • Preferred practice: Most appropriate use, with details of at least 1 practical application
  • New and distinct features: Include these whether they are patented or not
  • Scope: Materials, compositions, conditions, etc. used to obtain good results
  • Limitations: Whether the invention's range can obtain good results, or if there are exceptions
  • Laboratory or commercial test results: These should show your patent's preferred practice, and the conditions under which poor or dangerous results could be expected
  • Lists of existing relevant patents or technical articles: Include the name of the inventor, number of the patent, country and date of issue, or name of the periodical and its date, with a list of the similarities and differences of practices or products that are relevant to your invention
  • Disclosure: People you have already told about your invention
  • Personal information: Your name, address and citizenship
  • Other jurisdictions: Countries in which you would like to file for a patent

Decide if you'll request examination at filing

Examination does not begin automatically. You must request it within 4 years from the filing date (5 years, if your filing date was before ). At the earliest, you can request the examination of a patent application when you file your application. This places your application in the queue for examination.

Request examination

Know that your application will be public

In general, your application will be available in the publicly accessible Canadian Patents Database 18 months after your filing date (or earliest priority date). Otherwise, you can request that the application be open to public inspection earlier than the 18-month period of confidentiality.

Patent applications subject to section 20 of the Patent Act (items of national security) are not published.

Canadian Patents Database

Protect your privacy on the Canadian Patents Database