2022 Canadian Intellectual Property Office Client Satisfaction Survey: Executive Summary

Supplier name: Environics Research Group
Contract number: U1400-222121/001/CY
Contract value: $83,366.09
Award date: January 18, 2022
Delivery date: November 16, 2022
Registration number: POR 098-21

For more information on this report, please contact Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at: ic.publicopinionresearch-recherchesurlopinionpublique.ic@canada.ca

Table of contents

A. Background and objectives

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) Client Satisfaction Survey was developed as a standardized measure of client satisfaction. The initial baseline survey, conducted in 2017-18, established baseline measures. In 2022, CIPO contracted Environics Research to conduct the second wave of this research in order to measure to what extent recent factors have influenced client opinions on CIPO's service delivery.

The specific objectives of this research were to:

  • Track a series of performance measurement metrics relating to customer satisfaction for CIPO;
  • Outline client priorities for CIPO's service delivery; and,
  • Collect data to support other business intelligence needs related to CIPO's clients.

Since 2018, many factors have affected CIPO's service delivery. The most notable factors are as follows:

  • CIPO acceded to five (5) international treaties that introduced a dual track system (national v. international) resulting in the organization and clients having to adjust to Canada's modernized legislative framework and new business processes. The recent adherence to the treaties and the implementation of trade agreements have changed the nature and demand for Intellectual Property (IP).
  • Following the implementation of the treaties, CIPO saw an unprecedented growth in IP filings which has led to record growing IP backlogs and increased turnaround times affecting clients directly.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic introduced many new challenges where CIPO experienced unforeseen disruptions to its operations and services early in the pandemic and had to quickly shift into mitigating actions to minimize the impacts to service delivery and its clients. In addition, IP filings defied historical trends and remained consistent in their growth affecting CIPO's ability to recover against record levels of IP activity.
  • The pace of IT modernization has amplified during the pandemic to ensure that employees remain fully productive while working from home, reducing the use of paper in CIPO's interactions with clients and operating under new virtual platforms.
  • CIPO is facing a structural deficit as a result of fees that do not reflect the increased cost of service delivery over the last 17 years and which has inhibited the organization's maneuverability in facing challenges and improving client experience.

Due to the extraordinary nature of these contextual factors experienced within a relatively short period of time, it is clear that CIPO's operational landscape has changed radically since 2018. Given that clients' perceptions have been strongly influenced by many of these factors, CIPO is taking more time to better understand and contextualize the results to become more familiar with the clients they serve, their challenges and identify meaningful and relevant opportunities.

In 2022, CIPO also introduced a new client segment for this research: non-agent IP professionals. The inclusion of this segment is aligned with recent user research on CIPO clients that confirms this group is a key client segment interacting directly with CIPO services. The inclusion of IP professionals in 2022 makes the overall satisfaction score more inclusive and more reflective of the experience of all clients.

Given the shift of the operational landscape and the amendments introduced in the 2022 sampling frame, no direct comparison is being made against the 2018 survey results.

B. Methodology

The research project involved an online survey with 1,517 CIPO clients (including agents, represented and unrepresented clients and non-agent IP professionals), from April 21- June 27, 2022.

The contact lists provided by CIPO included four client groups: agents, IP professionals who are not agents (new in 2022), unrepresented clients and represented clients. The latter two groups of clients represent Canadian applicants who in the past 24 months: were granted/registered IP; had their applications refused/abandoned/withdrawn; or had an application still in progress. The agent group includes registered agents representing both national and international clients. Records without email addresses were removed and the remaining records were deduplicated. This survey represents an attempted census of all eligible clients with an available email address; since no sample was drawn, a margin of sampling error does not apply.

The final distribution of completed interviews by client type and line of business is as follows:
  Patent ID TD Total % Weighted
Agents 80 56 193 329 14%
Unrepresented clients 119 28 745 892 65%
Represented clients 5 3 12 20 9%
Mixed clientsFootnote * 23 3 65 91
Total excluding IPPRO 227 90 1,015 1,332 88%
Non-Agent IP professionals 63 40 82 185 12%
Total 290 130 1,097 1,517 100%
Footnote *

Mixed clients are those who indicated that they sometimes used an agent and sometimes interacted with CIPO on their own behalf in the previous 24 months. No quota was established for this group.

Return to footnote * referrer

When clients indicated experience with more than one line of business in the past 24 months, the survey programming selected a line of business for respondents to respond about, prioritizing those with fewer sample records (Industrial Design and Patent) to ensure these are sufficiently represented in the data.

The data were statistically weighted to match the proportions of agents, unrepresented and represented clients achieved in 2018. IP professionals were included in proportion to their actual response frequency (which is similar to the proportion of IP professional e-mails in the sample file provided by CIPO).

A more detailed descrip­tion of the methodology is presented in Appendix A, and the questionnaire is included as Appendix B.

C. Contract value

The cost of this research was $83,366.09 (HST included).

D. Report

This report begins with an executive summary outlining key findings and conclusions, followed by a detailed analysis of the survey data. Provided under separate cover is a detailed set of "banner tables" presenting the results for all quantitative survey questions by population segments as defined by client group, IP type, region and other subgroups. These tables are referenced by the survey question in the detailed analysis.

(Note: In this report, quantitative results are expressed as percentages unless otherwise noted. Results may not add to 100% due to rounding or multiple responses. Net results cited in the text may not exactly match individual results shown in the tables due to rounding.)

E. Use of findings of the research

The CIPO Client Satisfaction Survey is intended to be a standardized measure of client satisfaction, that is used to assess progress and trends over time.

The 2022 CIPO Client Satisfaction Survey Report has garnered valuable feedback from clients and stakeholders regarding the perceived quality of service that CIPO provides to its clients. This information will be used by CIPO to identify service quality improvements. Going forward, CIPO will continue to measure and monitor the implementation of service delivery and share results through existing mechanisms such CIPO's Annual Report in order to ensure that information about the organization's continuous improvement efforts is accessible to clients and stakeholders.

F. Key findings

The survey findings reveal that overall satisfaction with CIPO's services is mixed. Over one-third of clients (37%) are satisfied, a similar proportion (39%) are dissatisfied, and one-quarter (24%) are neutral. This level of satisfaction is similar for both agents and unrepresented clients.

  • Satisfaction is relatively higher with services related to filing (45% among those who filed an application in the past 24 months) and relatively lower for services related to examination (30%) and the quality of office actions (26%). The latter result is also reflective of a relatively high proportion of clients who could not give an opinion (36%).
  • Service satisfaction is linked to successfully receiving IP protection. Overall satisfaction and satisfaction with specific service aspects is generally higher among those who have received a registration/grant in the past 24 months, which represents 74 percent of agents (who have multiple clients) but just one-quarter (23%) of unrepresented clients.

The research suggests two main areas where service expectations are not being met, that help explain mixed satisfaction levels:

  • Concerns about lack of timely service: Agreement that office actions are received in a reasonable amount of time currently sits at three in ten (29%) for first office actions and one-quarter (24%) for subsequent ones. One-third of agents who successfully received an IP registration/grant (for their clients) in the past 24 months are satisfied with the length of time it took (although satisfaction is higher among unrepresented clients at 49%). As well, clients dissatisfied with filing or examination cite the slow process as their top reason.
  • Concerns about lack of information: Facing delayed service, clients appear to be looking for a contact point and/or updates from CIPO. One in three are satisfied with access to CIPO's services overall, with as many (34%) who are dissatisfied. Four in ten clients or fewer agree they were able to access CIPO staff and documents and that they were aware of the status of their IP application throughout. Agents express greater concerns about their ability to reach CIPO employees with questions, while unrepresented clients tend to focus on their inability to find out the status of their application.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the government service environment and increased the importance of digital channels. CIPO's website is the most widely used channel, followed by email and telephone (the latter particularly for agents and IP professionals). Not surprisingly, there was limited use of non-electronic channels to reach CIPO in the past 24 months.

  • In this context, CIPO received relatively strong scores (among the highest in the survey) for its online services being easy to find (51%), online transactions being easy to complete (56%) and the website having the information they were looking for (51%).

It is important to note that these findings represent overarching levels of satisfaction across all types of intellectual property administered at CIPO. In most instances, this report shows that there are notable differences in results between patents and trademarks, with the former being more favourable than the latter with respect to overall satisfaction.

Given the multitude of service dimensions assessed, an in-depth analysis was conducted to determine which service aspects are the key "drivers" or factors influencing clients' overall satisfaction with CIPO service. The examination process is a key driver of overall satisfaction for all client types. The filing process and CIPO staff "going the extra mile" are key drivers for unrepresented clients who often need additional support navigating the IP system. Timeliness has a stronger impact on overall satisfaction for agents, who want the process to work efficiently. Thus, the extent to which CIPO can address issues/concerns in each of these areas provides the greatest opportunity to improve overall client satisfaction with its services.

Non-agent IP professionals were included in the 2022 survey for the first time. As experienced professionals in their field (six in ten have more than ten years of experience), their views on CIPO services are largely similar to agents. The exception is they tend to have more positive opinions about their ability to navigate the filing process (e.g., easily complete forms, use the searchable databases) and about the ease of use of CIPO's online services.

G. Political neutrality statement and contact information

I hereby certify as a Vice President of Environics Research Group that the deliverables fully comply with the Government of Canada political neutrality requirements outlined in the Communications Policy on Communications and Federal Identity of the Government of Canada and Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research. Specifically, the deliverables do not contain any reference to electoral voting intentions, political party preferences, standings with the electorate, or ratings of the performance of a political party or its leader.

Sarah Roberton
Vice President, Corporate and Public Affairs
Environics Research