Great. I will switch to part 4, division 7, subdivision D.
This is the one that pertains to your question, Mr. Vice-Chair.
Subdivision D of division 7 of part 4 enacts, through clauses 247 to 264, the college of patent agents and trademark agents act. The act establishes the college of patent agents and trademark agents, which is to be responsible for the regulation of patent and trademark agents in the public interest.
Among other things, the act requires that agents obtain a licence and that licences comply with a code of professional conduct. It authorizes the college's investigation committee to receive complaints and conduct investigations into potential professional misconduct. It authorizes the college's discipline committee to impose disciplinary measures. It also creates the new offences of claiming to be a patent agent or trademark agent, and unauthorized practice before the patent office or the office of the registrar of trademarks.
Very quickly, by way of background, patent and trademark agents are an essential part of the intellectual property system. The regulations of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office require in the cases of patents that actions before the office are pursued by a registered agent. In the cases of trademarks, while individuals can pursue their own trademarks, a significant practice of expertise has been built up by the trademark agent community.
Under our existing governance framework for patent and trademark agents, the system is both opaque and incomplete. Right now the commissioner of patents has the capacity to list agents to the registry of registered agents before the office and to remove them from that list, but those are the only powers she possesses. In the case where an infraction, were there to be one, necessitated potentially some other remedial measure, the only option available currently to the commissioner of patents is to simply remove the person from the ability to practice before the office.
Second of all, right now there's no guidance or transparency to the process to investigate complaints. There is no set-upon approved process by which someone may want to take issue with their agent, nor, potentially, transparency to the process through which that individual would be able to either resuscitate their reputation or potentially have the offence confirmed.
Third, part of the reason we're also creating an independent self-regulating body is that the same office that currently grants people access to become registrants is the same office for which those agents litigate their matters. One can imagine that there could be a perceived conflict of interest there. We don't believe there is one. The office acts in extremely good faith. But an agent who consistently and significantly appeals all of their decisions before the office may be perceived as potentially problematic, and should there ever be a movement to remove them from the list, there could be a perceived conflict of interest that perhaps they were being removed not because of the offence they were being accused of but in fact because they were a challenge to the office.
This creates a self-regulating body with significant checks with respect to the public interest to ensure that this doesn't constrain access to the profession or access to the services of the profession.