New Patent Law Treaty Will Benefit Canadian and Foreign Investors

OTTAWA, May 22, 2001 — The Honourable Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry, today announced that Canada has signed a new Patent Law Treaty. The implementation of this Treaty will benefit Canadian and foreign investors through a streamlined process for filing and processing patent applications.

"The Government of Canada is hereby making a clear commitment to follow through on one aspect of the Speech from the Throne by promoting innovation and attracting investors by modernizing its patent law," added Minister Tobin. "Signing the Treaty will signal Canada's desire to remain a key player in international discussions on any future harmonization of procedures to administer patents."

The Patent Law Treaty is a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) accord designed to simplify and harmonize administrative practices among national and regional intellectual property offices (IPOs). The Treaty aims to encourage the use of intellectual property systems, stimulate innovation and will facilitate access by Canadians to foreign IPOs.

The Treaty is expected to result in a clearer set of rules and solid benefits for applicants and owners, as well as their agents.

For more information, please contact:

Heidi Bonnell
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Industry
(613) 995-9001

Pierre Trépanier
Director, Patent Branch
Canadian Intellectual Property Office
(819) 997-1947


BACKGROUNDER

The Patent Law Treaty (PLT) is a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty. WIPO was established in 1970, and is one of 14 specialized agencies in the United Nations system. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, and composed of 171 member states, WIPO promotes intellectual property (IP) protection, facilitates adoption of IP treaties and assumes an important role in the administration of IP throughout the world.

The Treaty and its regulations will simplify and harmonize administrative practices among national and regional intellectual property offices (IPOs).

More specifically, the key results of the Treaty include: a) simplification of requirements for obtaining a filing date; b) harmonization of requirements that can be requested by national offices, with respect to the form and content of an application; c) possibility for owners and applicants to perform certain administrative procedures without representation; d) simplification of procedures for transfer of ownership; e) possibility of extension of the priority period under specific conditions and; f) availability of enhanced mechanisms to avoid a loss of rights.

Canada is already compliant with many aspects of the PLT. However, some changes may be required to the Patent Act with respect to filing date requirements, claiming date priority, assignment and representation.

International efforts toward patent law harmonization were initiated in 1985. A first round of negotiations concluded in 1991 without an agreement. In 1995, a new round of negotiations was initiated and the PLT was adopted at WIPO's Diplomatic Conference for the Conclusion of the PLT on June 2, 2000. To date, 47 countries have signed the PLT, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

By signing the Treaty, Canada is agreeing in principle with the Treaty and its rules, committing to launch the ratification process and to subsequently amend its national patent law so that Canada's patent administrative formalities conform with the Treaty.

Canada assumed a leadership role by actively participating in all preparatory sessions and at the Diplomatic Conference. During the entire process, Canada has advocated for more substantive patent law harmonization in areas dealing with administrative issues.

Consultations took place with stakeholders over the five-year period. Representatives from the patent agent community, the major private sector stakeholder, have expressed satisfaction with the content of the Treaty and with Canada's signature.

By signing, Canada is following through on one aspect of its Speech from the Throne commitment that "the Government will ensure that Canadian laws and regulations remain among the most modern and progressive in the world, including those for intellectual property."

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