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CANADA


INTERNATIONAL PATENT STRATEGIES? CHOOSE CANADA


Scott Miller and Randall Marusyk MBM Intellectual Property Law LLP


Recent global economic events have forced intellectual property (IP) owners to tighten their belts. IP reform has put more pressure on IP owners too, as they now have to consider and act on reforms such as the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), which was signed into law by US President Barack Obama on September 16, 2011. When these events are combined, they represent a good opportunity for Canada to become a top-tier priority for patent filings.


For example, applicants in the US now have to request prioritised examinations of patent applications that have a limited number of claims, for a fee (large applicant) of $4800. In comparison, the cost for requesting an expedited examination in Canada is $500, or free if the application is for green technology. Given that there is a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) in place between Canada and the US, the significantly reduced costs of expedited examination make filing and expediting prosecution in Canada a more attractive economic option in comparison to the US .


Canada also has PPH agreements in place with other countries, including Japan, Germany and Korea.


Patent claims


Regarding patent claims, there is another economic consideration to keep in mind. In Canada, there is no limit to the total number of claims or the number of independent claims that can be included in an application. Moreover, there are no restrictions or surcharges on the use of multiple dependent claims. This means that any claim that may have been deleted in an original US or European application for cost- saving purposes may be reintroduced during Canadian prosecution.


Another change brought by the AIA in the US, which comes into force in March 2013, affects foreign priority claims. The change will put foreign priority claims on an equal footing with US patent filing dates. This means that patent applicants will no longer have to file in the US before seeking protection elsewhere, as they do now, because a


76 World Intellectual Property Review e-Digest 2012


US filing date and a foreign priority date will carry the same weight during examination.


This may effect a change in filing strategy. Inventors who currently seek protection in the US first and then claim priority for the US application when filing in Canada will be able to do the reverse.


Filing first in Canada and then the US, for applicants who are legally able to do so, can be more cost-effective and a faster means of securing a filing date. In Canada, a patent applicant has 12 months from the date of filing to complete an application and secure the original filing date. There are no requirements in Canada for an inventor’s oath, formalised drawings or the other formalities that are required in the US.


Protection from cross-border activity


Manufacturers would be unwise to patent a product in the US only. Without patent protection elsewhere, their competitors could set up businesses in jurisdictions such as Canada and sell their products to customers around the world, as well as cross-border shoppers from the US. At the very least, manufacturers should consider applying for patent protection in Canada as part of a defensive filing strategy if Canada is not an attractive market in itself.


Making, using, selling or offering for sale a claimed invention in Canada constitutes patent infringement, and inducing others to infringe also constitutes infringement. Infringement may also occur if a non-patented product that was made outside Canada, using a process or product that is covered by a Canadian patent, is sold there. There is a six-year limitation period for infringement.


When filing in Canada


There are aspects of Canadian patent law that make the country a more attractive jurisdiction to patent in than the US.


T e grace period that can be enjoyed by inventors when preparing a patent application is diff erent in Canada and the US. Under the AIA,


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