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

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

They could reproduce it, but they can't use an identical product. To what extent can they improve on that product to the point where they could use it?

9:30 a.m.

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

Agnès Lajoie

Again, it's incremental. It depends. They're minor improvements.... Each case is different. What happens, also, is that the licensing discussion can happen. So if you incrementally improve an invention, you may be able to use that improved invention based on the agreement you have with the pioneer of the first invention. Each case is so different. There are different nuances and different levels of improvement.

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

If you get a new patent on that incremental improvement, does that prohibit the original company, who might have been working on a similar improvement from using that as well?

9:35 a.m.

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

Agnès Lajoie

It could potentially.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Right. Okay.

I could ask so many more questions, but I'll close.

Gerard, you've given us some questions we might consider asking as we move forward in this study. For example, as we're looking for independent experts to invite to the committee, what organizations and what people are out there in Canada who could be considered independent experts we might want to consider inviting?

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

You would have to submit that to us in writing, or at least mention it to somebody else who questions you at a later time. I'm sorry. Again, we have to stick with the time.

Now on to Mr. Regan for seven minutes.

May 10th, 2012 / 9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I also want to thank the witnesses.

My first question is for Mr. Laporte.

I have a very practical question based upon a problem from a constituent of mine who called my office in view of the fact that, in Nova Scotia, massage therapy is not regulated. The provincial government hasn't passed the laws that say you have to have the body and be a member of it and so forth. There are three recognized professional associations.

Whereas in Ontario it is regulated by the provincial government, and the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario trademarked the phrases “massage therapist”, “registered massage therapist”, and “therapeutic massage”. It licensed one of the three associations in Nova Scotia—I think you see where the problem is starting to develop—and the others can't use those words. How is it that a body that is limited provincially can obtain an official mark for a profession that applies nationally? This jurisdictional issue is very problematic, it seems to me.

How does it have the right to license an official mark to organizations in different jurisdictions who have jurisdiction over this kind of thing, over what they're doing, over this profession? It isn't federal. Are there any avenues for objection to an official mark or the licensing thereof across the country? I see a real problem with having given a trademark in this way that can apply nationally.

9:35 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

That's a good question. The answer is quite complicated. We can probably speak off-line if you want to look at the details. I want to leave you with a few tidbits of information.

One, when we grant a trademark it has a national scope. Two, official marks are trademarks that we grant when there is, for example, a government requester, and those we approve by default. So there are very few tests to be done for any kind of mark related to a city, an official organization, a coat of arms for les Chevaliers de Colomb, or something of that nature. By law they're official marks and they have to be approved. It may cause some issues.

Three, when we look at approving trademarks, even official marks, we try to ensure we don't give national coverage to one region that may infringe on another region's similar demands. So without knowing the details, I would like to think that when we approve the trademark in Ontario that the word “Ontario” appears somewhere to limit the trademark.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

My understanding is that it doesn't. They have the words “massage therapist”, “registered massage therapist”, and “therapeutic massage” for Canada, and yet it's the Ontario College of Massage Therapists. It's very problematic, obviously.

9:35 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

We need to look at the details for that one, unfortunately.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

It seems odd to me. I don't know if it's a problem. You don't have the option, I presume, of issuing an official trademark that isn't national in scope, is that right? Or can you say, we're going to give it to you, but only limit it to the jurisdiction in which you are authorized by your provincial government?

9:35 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

I'm not aware of such a limitation.

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

You don't have that option?

9:35 a.m.

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

9:35 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

It seems to me you should have that option, arguably. At least it's certainly worth examining. The alternative is obviously not to issue it at all because of the problem that's been created in a case like this. Is it possible to retract a trademark if you have a problem like this and you recognize you may have made a mistake?