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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

9:35 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

I'm getting into a bit of unfamiliar territory with respect to the Trade-marks Act.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

What mechanism is there to protect patents that are developed in Canada, perhaps with a lot of help from the Government of Canada, and therefore the taxpayers? For instance, the Nortel patents—they're made available and they're sold internationally to a company like Ericsson, and therefore not available in a reasonable way to a company like RIM. Do you have any role in that situation, or is that the role of the government itself under the Investment Canada Act?

9:40 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

We don't play a role. The patent belongs to the entity that owns it.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

You talked about there being 78 months for patents, but you explained that often people don't make the request to treat the patent until the last year or so.

Can you give us a comparison of the time in Canada, versus other countries, from the point of the request to treat until the patent is issued? It seems to me, from what you are saying, that this would be much more useful to us than simply from the time of initial application.

I don't mean, right this instant, obviously.

9:40 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

We provide the entire timeframe, because you are going to hear about how much time it takes; that it's very long. Well, it is long because we have that five-year period in Canada, which is something that does not exist in many other countries.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Can you give us both? In other words, can you provide us later on with something that provides us all—

9:40 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

In fact, I can tell you today. If we take out the average time for someone to request that we examine, we are at about 48 months.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

My question is the time in comparison with other major jurisdictions, if you could do that later for us.

Can you do it instantly?

9:40 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

I can do it now. It is apples and oranges, because the laws are very different. In the United States, for example, it's 39 months compared with our 48. But they have different tests of law from ours. That's why you have to take the comparisons with a grain of salt.

We are slightly higher than the countries we associate with.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

You talk about the implications of new strategic uses of patents. Can you give me some examples of what you mean by “new strategic uses of patents”?

Mr. Peets?

9:40 a.m.

Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Strategic Policy Sector , Department of Industry

Gerard Peets

Absolutely. That's actually linked to the question that the chair asked me at the end of the presentation. Some of the things I would put in that bundle include that firms are feeling they need to develop defensive patent portfolios. We have talked to some firms in the ICT sector and the oil and gas sector.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Can I ask one last question here? It's very short, and you will like the question. It's useful.

The question is where are the big problems internationally? You ask whether the patent regime in target markets such as the U.S., EU, and Asia are really the key. I don't want to talk about the roles in espionage and hacking; we don't have time for that. But where are the big problems?

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Sweet

That question is out now. The question ended up being much longer than “very short”. That will have to stay out there. We can maybe pick up that answer along with somebody else's questions.

We go into the second round now, which is for five minutes. We now go to Mr. Carmichael for five minutes.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Thank you, Chair. That last question sounded like a quick question, but it sounded like a book to answer it.

Mr. Peets, I would like to begin with you, if I could, just following up on my colleague Mr. Lake's request for names of organizations and some independent experts that we might call on to assist in this study.

9:40 a.m.

Senior Director, Strategy and Planning Directorate, Strategic Policy Sector , Department of Industry

Gerard Peets

I would probably want to think about this a little bit. Some of the discussion earlier in response to Mr. Braid's question would apply here; that's where I tried to identify some of the main IP stakeholder groups.

Generally, what you see is that the main IP stakeholder groups have industry associations. Those industry associations are a good place to start, as are national business associations and national associations that represent other stakeholder groups.

May 10th, 2012 / 9:40 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Maybe I could ask you in the interest of time, if you could, to give some thought to it and give us a few names that might add to the value of what we're trying to accomplish at this committee.

I would like to go back to some more rudimentary understanding of patents, if I could. This is to Mr. Laporte and Madame Lajoie.

Could you take me through the process? When I apply for a patent, if I'm a small business or whatever, you talk about an 18-month period when the patent application—with the detail—is open to the public. At what point in time does that happen? Is it at the end of the five years, or is it right out of the chute?

If I have an idea as a small business, you mention that I have five years to trigger the patent review. How do I protect myself in that first five years, if I believe the idea is intellectually important?

9:45 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

You touched on a number of points. I will try to answer, and then we'll see—

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

We have limited time, so I'm trying to cover it all.

9:45 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

When you apply, you have 18 months during which we do not disclose your invention.

I think you said we would disclose.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

I'm sorry, I understood there was an 18-month period where that application was visible to the public, or to anybody who—

9:45 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

When you file with us, for 18 months, although you disclose to us, we will not make it public. You're protected from that perspective, but at the 18-month point, we do make it public.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Okay. When do companies generally make that application? Is it at the beginning of the five-year period?

9:45 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

Right. The clock starts when they apply.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

When they apply, but that's not at the 60-month point.

9:45 a.m.

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

Sylvain Laporte

About 30% of applications will request examination and application. Then you have five years. You know, if you look at a histogram over the five years, about 30% apply right off the bat, then another 25% apply at the five-year point. Those are the people who want to take their time with respect to the application.

So there's a distribution there of when they ask us to do the examination.