Intellectual Property Strategy

In 2018, the Government of Canada launched a comprehensive Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy to help Canadian businesses, creators, entrepreneurs and innovators understand, protect and access IP.

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IP means innovation. Canadian businesses, entrepreneurs, creators and innovators have fantastic ideas, do incredible research, and create amazing products and inventions. IP plays a critical role in exploiting the growth and innovation potential of businesses. An IP strategy for your business can help extract value from existing products and services, create new revenue streams and raise capital.

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The IP Strategy

Supporting innovation, stimulating growth and creating jobs

The Government of Canada is making sure that Canadian businesses, creators, entrepreneurs and innovators have access to the best possible IP resources through IP awareness, education and advice, strategic IP tools for growth and IP legislation.

IP awareness, education and advice

Building an understanding of IP among Canadians is a major component of ensuring that entrepreneurs, businesses, creators and innovators recognize the value of IP. They need to think about IP differently, recognizing its importance to business growth.

Building expertise through learning and education

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) offers a suite of IP learning tools and resources, and consultations with IP Advisors, to help innovators and businesses understand how to leverage IP to achieve commercial and business success.

Indigenous intellectual property initiatives

The Indigenous Intellectual Property Program (IIPP) initiatives aim to support Indigenous peoples' capacity building, education, awareness raising, and participation in national and international discussions about the complex relationship between the IP system andthe protection of Indigenous knowledge (IK) and Indigenous cultural expressions (ICEs). This includes engagement with Indigenous people, and research activities and a grant program.

The IIPP grant supports Indigenous peoples' participation in World Intellectual Property Organization Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore sessions, small-scale initiatives and projects related to the protection of IP, IK and ICEs.

For more information, visit Indigenous Peoples and Intellectual Property and Indigenous Intellectual Property Program Grant.

IP legal clinics grant program

IP legal clinics are a win-win, enabling law students to learn more about IP, helping businesses get a sense of their IP needs and facilitating access to the profession that can provide quality IP advice. The program does so by supporting the provision of free or low-cost access to basic IP services and increasing the exposure of university students to IP issues. The program also helps clinics obtain and develop resources and tools to improve the quality of IP services.

For more information, visit the Intellectual Property Legal Clinics Program.

Intellectual Property Centre of Expertise

To ensure that federal public servants have the knowledge and capacity to carry out their duties as it relate to IP, an internal-facing IP Centre of Expertise was created. These professionals provide advice and training to Government of Canada programs and public servants to ensure that IP is addressed and managed in a way that adds value for Canadian businesses and the Canadian public.

For more information, visit the Intellectual Property Centre of Expertise.

IP awareness and use survey

The government completed the IP Awareness and Use Survey in July 2021. In addition to identifying how businesses in Canada understand and use IP, this data gathering exercise includes groups that have traditionally been less likely to use IP, such as women and Indigenous entrepreneurs.

The results of the survey are publicly available through the Open Government Data Portal.

Strategic IP tools for growth

For Canadian businesses to grow and succeed in the innovation economy, they need to commercialize their ideas and compete in the global marketplace.

ExploreIP

ExploreIP is a free online searchable tool that provides businesses, creators, entrepreneurs and innovators with access to thousands of intellectual property (IP) assets across all industry sectors, held by government, academia or other public sector institutions. Through this IP marketplace, users can contact IP holders and research organizations to foster collaborations and leverage ground-breaking research and discoveries.

For more information, visit ExploreIP: Canada's IP Marketplace.

Elevate IP

ElevateIP was established to help business accelerators and incubators provide the tools Canadian start-ups need to better protect, strategically manage and leverage their intellectual property. This is done by helping businesses secure and maintain their IP rights and provide them with the IP tools and education they need to grow. On a larger scale, ElevateIP serves to improve IP capacity in innovation ecosystems across Canada.

For more information, visit ElevateIP.

Expedited IP dispute resolution

IP rights' owners and users will benefit from more efficient and less costly IP dispute resolution and copyright tariff setting at the Federal Court and Copyright Board of Canada.

Pilot Project: The Patent Collective

The Patent Collective is a pilot project intended to bring small and medium-sized enterprises together through a membership model to help them make the most strategic use of their IP and facilitate better IP outcomes for collective members.

The collective was officially launched on December 9, 2020. Innovation Asset Collective was selected to administer the $30 million initiative and assist small and medium-sized enterprises in the data-driven cleantech sector with their IP needs.

For more information, visit the Patent Collective Pilot Program.

IP and standardization strategies

The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) works with Canadian innovators to leverage their IP with standardization. Innovators can participate in the process of standards development to further protect their IP and encourage the inclusion of Canadian innovations in international standards. Standardization also sets a benchmark that can be leveraged to expand globally, access new markets and reap many other benefits.

For more information, visit SCC: The Innovation Initiative.

IP legislation

New amendments to key IP laws will clarify acceptable practices and prevent misuses of IP rights.

Minimum requirements for patent demand letters

Establishing minimum requirements for the use of patent demand letters to discourage the sending of deceptive and/or vague letters and to reduce costs for the recipient in assessing the merits of the allegations.

The requirements will mandate that basic information (e.g. patent number and product or activities) will need to be included in a demand letter alleging infringement. Regulations will ensure a balance between using demand letters as a low-cost method to assert a patent right and discouraging bad behaviour.

Exclude settlement demands from the copyright Notice and Notice regime

While most rights holders have used the notice and notice regime responsibly, a small number of bad actors have leveraged it to send threatening demands to make settlement payments. We will make it explicit that notices that include such demands do not comply with the regime. This would protect consumers while ensuring that the Notice and Notice regime remains effective in discouraging infringement.

Reinforce the importance of use in the trademark regime

To prevent the cluttering and misuse of the trademark registration system, notably what is sometimes referred to as "trademark squatting," new bad faith trademark opposition and invalidation grounds have been introduced. Use is also required to enforce a trademark within the first three years after registration.

Patent research exemption

Amendments aimed at affirming that there is no infringement when conducting experiments that relate to the subject matter of a patent.

However, resulting inventions still need to abide by existing patent laws before being sold or used for commercial benefit.

Standard essential patents

Clarification that, when a patent owner voluntarily makes a licensing commitment to incentivize a standard-setting organization to incorporate its patented technology as part of a standard, prospective licensees will be able to rely on that commitment even if the patent changes owners.

IP licences in bankruptcy proceedings

Currently, in restructuring, IP licensees in good standing can continue to use the IP if the debtor disclaims the licence. New amendments will extend this right to liquidation proceedings.

Better IP agent governance

The College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents (CPATA) is an independent regulator established to protect the public interest by strengthening the competencies of patent agents and trademark agents, and building confidence in accessible, ethical and expert intellectual property services in Canada.

For more information, visit the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents.

Leveraging IP

IP is a business asset

Businesses need to protect their intellectual property, just as they would protect physical assets such as buildings and equipment.

Patents, copyrights, trademarks, registered industrial designs, plant breeders' rights, geographical indications or trade secrets can give entrepreneurs an important advantage over their competitors.

Learn the basics of intellectual property

Finding success with IP

IP-intensive firms are more innovative, export more, enjoy higher growth and create better jobs.

How some successful Canadian companies use IP:

  • Spin Master is a successful Canadian toy company that created the must-have toy of 2017, Hatchimals. A tailored IP strategy has been key to Spin Master's ongoing success. For example, as trends change quickly, Spin Master only selectively uses the long-term protection of patents. Instead, it relies more heavily on trademarks, which protect against the counterfeiting of its popular products.
  • BIOVECTRA is a chemical manufacturer based in PEI. BIOVECTRA uses a multi-pronged IP strategy that relies on trade secrets to protect products from becoming reverse-engineered. Patents are more commonly used in the biotech industry, but by focusing on products that can be protected through BIOVECTRA's IP strategy of choice, the company is able to protect its investments without having to file patents in multiple jurisdictions or pursue difficult and expensive infringement proceedings.

Read more success stories to learn about how businesses are finding success and growth potential by harnessing their IP.