Evidence of meeting #30 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was vote.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Sylvain Laporte  Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade-marks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry
  • Gerard Peets  Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Strategic Policy Sector , Department of Industry
  • Konstantinos Georgaras  Director, Policy, International and Research Office, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry
  • Agnès Lajoie  Assistant Commissioner of Patents, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry
  • Denis Martel  Director, Patent Policy Directorate, Strategic Policy Sector , Department of Industry

10:05 a.m.

Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade-marks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

Sylvain Laporte

I'll take a crack at that one.

We have basically two types of applicants. We have those who are represented by a professional IP agent—who is typically a lawyer with an engineering background, if it's in the patent world—and we have unrepresented applicants.

If you do hire a lawyer, as I mentioned before, the costs will vary, but $20,000 to $25,000 is likely in the range of what you're going to pay. If you come in unrepresented, you don't get that counsel. The IP world is very complex from a legal perspective, and some of our more troublesome application processes have been with people who have been unrepresented, because they don't understand the law.

We actually do encourage our applicants to hire a good IP agent to represent them. Basically, if your idea is worth protecting, it's worth protecting right. Even if you're unrepresented and you do get a patent, does the patent represent the scope that it should? Are you still well protected? Because you didn't have benefit from legal counsel, you may not have the result you were anticipating. So we do encourage that our folks seek counsel.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

That leads me into the next question. Mr. Laporte, you mentioned in your presentation that the difference in the laws is the reason why there's a 39-month U.S. period of time for the process, and in Canada it's 48 months. Am I correct in interpreting that's what you said?

10:05 a.m.

Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade-marks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

Sylvain Laporte

Actually, what I said was that we have different tests that are based in law that we have to conduct. The law doesn't state that we take 49 months and they take 38.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

No, but it's the differences in the law that cause us to have more tests and more questions, and require us to spend more time.

10:10 a.m.

Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade-marks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

Sylvain Laporte

Different, not necessarily more, but different. We look at things differently than they do, and the amount of time it takes to process an application is also probably a whole lot more dependent on the administration, on how many people you have going through the applications.

It's a question of efficiency and also a question of receiving applications that are requesting a whole lot more than they really should, and it takes seven iterations to bring you down to the invention. There is a whole lot of time that is spent on that iterative process.

I wouldn't read that the 48-month period is the result of our act. It's the result of a lot more variables than just the act itself.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Right, and that kind of leads me to my last question. Originally, I had no expectation of what the numbers were in terms of the number of applications, the need for processing, the need for resources. What kind of resources does our government have in place to handle these numbers? Can you give me a sense of the scale of the bureaucracy that it takes to handle this?

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

I apologize, but we're over our time on that as well. We'll have to leave that for another question or certainly you can respond to that after the fact, as well.

Now we'll go on to Mr. Masse, for five minutes.

May 10th, 2012 / 10:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to go back to one of the things that I thought was really interesting in your presentation, Mr. Laporte, about the five years to apply for patent pending, an issue that's being discussed. You were saying that 30% asked for an examination right away, but 25% wait until the five-year mark.

Is that an impediment to us in getting things to market? When one-quarter of all those applications wait until the end of five years—and I know you said comparing us to other countries is like comparing apples and oranges—should that five years be reviewed in terms of processing? If one-quarter of applicants are saying they'll file and wait until the very end, that's a little alarming in my opinion.

10:10 a.m.

Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade-marks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

Sylvain Laporte

You have to understand that the business folks who make the application also make the decision to wait. Clearly, in their business and their industry, it's beneficial to wait. It's not necessarily an impediment. There is a reason for that to happen. It could be that you may have a weak patent and you want to keep the patent pending as long as possible.

It would be interesting to look at the makeup of the 25%. I don't know that we've done that.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

That was going to be my next question. Is there a particular segment of patent applicants that dominate that 25%?

How did we arrive at five years? Why not four years? Why not six years? How long has it been five years in Canada?

10:10 a.m.

Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trade-marks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Since 2004...and what was it prior to that?

10:10 a.m.

Assistant Commissioner of Patents, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

Agnès Lajoie

When we implemented the system with the request for examination in 1990, it was seven years. We reduced it to five years in 2004.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

What was the objective of reducing it to five years in 2004? What was the specific objective to be accomplished?

10:10 a.m.

Assistant Commissioner of Patents, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Department of Industry

Agnès Lajoie

As Mr. Laporte said, it was to reduce the period of uncertainty and to make sure that—based on what we had observed during those years—those applications are examined in a timely manner.