Parliamentary Report Covers Key IP Issues, But Stumbles on Patentable Subject Matter, Omits Key Recommendation on Updating CIPO’s Systems

Parliamentary Report Covers Key IP Issues, But Stumbles on Patentable Subject Matter, Omits Key Recommendation on Updating CIPO’s Systems

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology has
tabled a report titled “Intellectual Property Regime in Canada”. The Committee
was chaired by David Sweet, M.P., and released its 78-page report after lengthy
hearings and testimony by 50 witnesses.

Among its numerous suggestions, the Committee recommended that the

  • Work
    with CIPO to produce regulations and legislation that will reduce the time it
    takes to grant IP rights and bring Canada in line with other countries.
  • Consider
    expanding patentability to new subject matter only when there is clear and
    demonstrable evidence of benefit to Canadians and competition.
  • Introduce
    legislative measures to better combat counterfeiting and piracy at the border,

•       providing appropriate ex-officio
powers to customs officials,

•       introducing civil and criminal
remedies for trademark counterfeiting, and

•       allowing customs officials to share
information with rights holders regarding suspected goods.

  • Ensure
    that criminal remedies are available where trade-mark counterfeiting or
    copyright piracy are both willful and on a commercial scale. However, the
    Committee noted that consumers themselves are often unable to distinguish
    between legitimate and counterfeit products and as a result excessive fines for
    individual consumers acting non-willfully are inappropriate.

In an industry-specific context, the Committee recommended that the

  • Ensure
    the pharmaceutical IP regime strikes a balance between encouraging investment
    in the development of new innovative drugs while ensuring Canadians have access
    to affordable pharmaceuticals.
  • Develop
    consistent IP policies for the Canadian aerospace industry across all
    government departments and streamline the restrictions on how IP can be used;
    make programs such as SADI more flexible with respect to foreign collaboration
    and strengthen aircraft procurement policies by negotiating IP rights when
    purchasing foreign aircraft.


We are wary of the recommendation regarding subject matter, as it can
hamper predictability for innovators. Innovation, by definition, expands into
the unknown and setting policy based on such unknowns seems unproductive and

In addition, we are disappointed that the Committee’s recommendations do not
appear to reflect the need for updating CIPO’s outdated electronic systems,
which severely lag behind their European and US counterparts. Although the
Committee appears to have heard testimony highlighting CIPO’s “antiquated” IP
database and its inadequate searchability, the recommendations do not appear to
explicitly reflect the urgent need for investment in updating CIPO’s electronic
infrastructure. These infrastructure deficiencies, in turn, create barriers to
access to the Canadian intellectual property regimes.

The full report can be accessed here.