COVID-19 Crisis: Canadian Government amends Patent Act to produce patented medical supplies

By Liz Gray and Natalie Raffoul

Last week, the Government of Canada passed an omnibus bill in response to the COVID-19 crisis that adds special powers to the Patent Act to ensure medical supplies, medication or vaccines can be produced locally.

Under the new Section 19.4(1), upon application of the Minister of Health, the Commissioner of Patents shall authorize the Government of Canada and any person specified in the application to make, construct, use and sell a patented invention to the extent necessary to respond to the public health emergency described in the application.

The application must include the Chief Public Health Officer’s confirmation that “there is a public health emergency that is a matter of national concern”, as well as a description of that public health emergency (subsection (2)). Further, subsection (7) explicitly clarifies that the use or sale of a patented invention under such an authorization, in relation to a public health emergency, is not an infringement of the patent.

Upon granting the authorization, the patent holder would receive “adequate remuneration under the circumstances” as determined by the Commissioner of Patents.

Any authorizations made cease to have effect when the Minister of Health determines that they’re no longer needed, or one (1) year after grant, whichever comes first. Additionally, no authorization shall be granted after September 30, 2020.

Take Your Career in IP Commercialization to the Next Level by becoming a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP)

The Toronto Chapter of the Licensing Executives Society (LES) (USA and Canada) is providing a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP) exam preparation course on March 25, 2020 from 8 am to 5:30 pm. Natalie Raffoul will join Michele Riley, Managing Director of Stout Risius Ross LLC and Paul Stewart, Managing Director of PASCO Ventures LLC, in providing a 9-hour, in-depth and substantive course that will help prepare professionals for the CLP Exam.

The course will be held at Torys LLP, 79 Wellington St. W., 33rd Floor (reception), Toronto, Ontario M5K 1N2

Register before February 14, 2020 for the early bird rate!

Register today at https://www.lesusacanada.org/event/clptoronto2020

A new year, a new location!

The Brion Raffoul team looks forward to welcoming clients at our new offices, located at 329 Churchill Ave, Ottawa, when the practice moves to its newly renovated building in February, 2020.

Over the holidays, Brion Raffoul will be closed on December 25 and 26, 2019. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is also closed these same days. Any patent, trademark or industrial design deadlines falling on December 25 and 26, 2019 are extended to December 27, 2019.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a joyous new year!

File Wrapper Estoppel in Canada – How Far Are the Courts Willing to Go?

By: Stacey Dunn

Since the coming-into-force date of new section 53.1 of the Patent Act in December 2018, Canadian practitioners have been waiting to see how broad this “file wrapper estoppel” provision will be interpreted. Recently, the Federal Court released a decision that expands the scope of s. 53.1 to potentially include foreign prosecution file wrappers. However, this case is currently under appeal.

Section 53.1(1) states that written communications prepared in respect of the prosecution of a patent application between the applicant or patentee and an employee of the Canadian Patent Office may be admitted into evidence to rebut any representation made by the patentee in claim construction. However, the Court held in Canmar Foods Ltd. V TA Foods LTD (2019 FC 1233) that foreign prosecution could be admissible to the court under “extraordinary circumstances”.

During the prosecution of Canadian Patent No. 2,582,376, a Response to an Office Action stated “New claims 1 to 19 correspond substantially to those submitted during prosecution of a related United States application” and “the newly submitted claims are much narrower in scope than the previously examined claims”. Accordingly, the Court held that because the patentee specifically referenced the corresponding US Application’s prosecution history and acknowledged that the amendments were made to overcome novelty and obviousness concerns raised in the US Application’s prosecution history, the applicable US Application’s prosecution history was admissible. The Court stated that if they were to ignore the US prosecution history in this specific case, “patent applicants in Canada would be incentivized to intentionally refrain from being transparent with the Canadian Patent Office as to why amendments were made to limit claims during prosecution”. However, an unintended consequence of this case may be that patent practitioners may intentionally refrain from being transparent. Instead of providing Examiners with information regarding where the amendments are coming from, Applicants are now incentivized to not mention any reference to foreign prosecution. Under this interpretation, Applicants would be better served to merely state that the claim amendments are not disclosed, taught or fairly suggested by the prior art without reference to a foreign Patent Office’s work.

The Court held that “extraordinary circumstances” arise where “the patentee acknowledges that the claims have been amended to be substantially the same as claims submitted in another jurisdiction, and the patentee admits that the amendments have limited the scope of claims in order to make the claims novel and non-obvious”. When this occurs, the Court held that the foreign prosecution history is admissible for the limited purpose of purposively construing the Canadian claims. The Court specifically mentioned expedited examination via the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), where Applicants are required to identify allowable claims in another jurisdiction and amend the claims to substantially conform to those allowable claims. Accordingly, Canmar appears to suggest that the foreign prosecution history of the Office of Earlier Examination (i.e., the country with allowable claims to which a PPH request is being made) will be admissible in court as there is an implicit admission that the amendments limit the scope of the claims to be novel and non-obvious.

What does this mean for Canadian patent prosecution moving forward?

Canadian practitioners are well aware that anything put on the record in Canada may be admissible in US court proceedings. Accordingly, verbose Responses have always been avoided, and indeed directly referring to US prosecution was a way to avoid adding anything new to the worldwide file wrapper for that patent family. However, practitioners should avoid mentioning foreign prosecution history, even to show the Examiner that these amendments have been deemed allowable elsewhere. Furthermore, Applicants should be wary of entering PPH in Canada, as the prosecution history of the Office of Earlier Examination may be used to rebut a representation made by the patentee in claim construction.

IP Strategy Within a Global Marketplace

Join Dr. Minya Gavrilovic, founding CEO of Galtronics Canada, and now COO/CTO of its parent, Baylin Technologies and Ms. Natalie Raffoul, a leading IP Lawyer and Patent Agent and the Managing Partner of Brion Raffoul, for a fireside chat. Dr. Gavrilovic will expand on formulating an IP strategy within a broader business strategy, as well as managing both registered and unregistered IP rights within the context of a global marketplace.

Click here to register. Entrepreneurs, business leaders, IP professionals and policy makers would benefit from attending this event. 

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving from the team at Brion Raffoul!

Brion Raffoul will be closed on October 14, 2019 for Canadian Thanksgiving. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office is also closed, so any patent or industrial design deadlines falling on October 12 to 14, 2019 are extended to October 15, 2019.

The New Gold Rush: Open Innovation in Canada

“It’s impossible for any organization to have all the best ideas”

~ General Electric, Open Innovation Manifesto

Open Innovation as an R&D strategy may seem counter-intuitive; traditional corporate culture dictates the use of secret R&D labs that operate in an information silo. However, open innovation can offer many competitive advantages, such as complimenting your company’s internal skills and know-how with external knowledge and ideas, lowering R&D costs, and increasing differentiation in the market.

For example, in 2000, the Canadian gold mining company Goldcorp Inc. crowdsourced gold prospecting in an under-performing mine; Goldcorp knew they were sitting on a literal and figurative gold mine but their geologists could not find the main deposits of gold. Goldcorp created a challenge for the general public; they released all Goldcorp’s geological data (going back as far as 1948) and offered $575,000 in prize money to the innovators that could find the elusive gold deposits. At the time, this type of open innovation was contrary to traditional mining practices: Goldcorp was admitting they were unable to find the gold and was releasing all their proprietary data. However, Goldcorp’s challenge led to more than 110 gold deposits that yielded over $6 billion worth of gold.

So, if that doesn’t answer why open innovation is a worthy consideration for any business, consider that patent filings in Canada have not increased significantly in the past ten (10) years. However, this stagnation is not an issue of lack of funding. Indeed, statistics from Industry Canada indicate that Canada is second only to the United States when it comes to venture capitalist funding.


Collaboration between companies and with the public at large should be considered to invigorate innovation in Canada. In another successful example of open innovation, Bombardier held a contest to solicit urban mobility designs. They created a social media open innovation community integrated with live, offline workshops. The contest rules stipulated that the winners must transfer their IP to Bombardier in exchange for a small prize. Bombardier also kept a right of first refusal for a year for all non-winning ideas. By creating a community around innovation, even outside their company, Bombardier created a sense of self-determination and pride in the community, that resulted in innovation pouring into Bombardier. Indeed, Bombardier received input from 2,486 participants from 102 countries that contributed 4,239 designs, 25,979 evaluations, 8,565 comments and 3,445 messages on Bombardier’s proposed urban transportation projects. As a bonus to uncovering a gold mine of innovation, Bombardier customers were very receptive to their more open and customer-orientated brand.

However, it is important to note that “open” innovation does not necessarily mean the innovation is in the public domain; the devil is in the details. IP ownership provisions should be clearly outlined in an agreement between all involved parties. The following questions can be helpful in outlining the preferred ownership details:

  • Who will own the IP stemming from the project (foreground IP)?
    • What about jointly created IP (joint ownership/management of IP assets should be approached with caution)?
    • Consider motivation factor for crowdsourcing when innovators own their IP?
    • Does a royalty-free license in perpetuity make sense given the motivations of the IP owner (i.e., the company or the innovator)?
  • What IP do the innovators and the company already own (background IP)?
  • Who owns the feedback stemming from the project?
  • Should a right of first refusal be included for IP that is not exploited during the project?

The bottom line: open innovation can be a great way to invigorate innovation within your company without resorting to a significant increase in R&D funding.

Canada is Modernizing its Patent Act and Rules to Streamline Procedures for Applicants

By: Edward Wu

Following the Government’s recent decision to ratify the Patent Law Treaty (PLT), the Orders in Council (OIC) published that the amendments to the Patent Act and Patent Rules under the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act and Economic Action Plan 2015 Act will come into force on October 30, 2019. Furthermore, the new Patent Rules will be published on July 10, 2019, under the Registration Number SOR/ 2019-0251.

The following important changes will be coming into force on October 30, 2019:

42-Month Deadline for National Phase Entries No Longer “As of Right”

The 42-month deadline for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) National Phase entries is no longer “as of right”. To utilize the 12-month extension, Applicants must submit a statement that the failure to meet the regular 30-month deadline was unintentional. Clients should be aware of the shortened period for national entries and make corresponding arrangements.

Requirements of Certified Copies for Priority Documents

After October 30, 2019, certified copies of priority documents must be filed with the Office; however, this requirement does not apply if the priority document is an earlier Canadian Application or, in the case of a national phase entry, where the PCT priority document requirement has already been satisfied. Clients should be aware of this change and make preparations for document certification, if necessary.

Easier to Obtain Filing Dates

International clients can now obtain a filing date without translating the Description because the new Patent Rules will no longer require an English or French Description for obtaining a filing date. The translation of the Description may now follow at a later date.

Furthermore, the new Patent Rules will allow Applicants to obtain a filing date on any day of the year by filing electronically, even on days where the Patent Office is closed for a holiday or the weekend. This important change will allow Applicants to obtain a quick filing date prior to any disclosures being made.

Restoration of Priority Claim

The new Patent Rules provide relief for Applicants that unintentionally miss the deadline for a priority request. The 12-month period for priority claims may be extended to fourteen (14) months if the Applicant submits that the delay was unintentional. However, the Federal Court may revoke the priority request if they later determine that the delay was intentional. Clients should be aware of the limited application of this new right of restoration for priority claims.

Please refer to Brion Raffoul’s previous article for more information regarding the new Patent Act and Patent Rules.

IAMPATENT1000 ranked Brion Raffoul as one of top 14 patent prosecution firms in Canada

IAMPATENT1000 is one of the most respected rankings for patent professionals globally because of peer review in validating its research. The IAMPATENT1000 published the following about Brion Raffoul:

Ottawa-based IP specialist Brion Raffoul is the recipient of emphatic feedback from the market: “Its professionals are extremely organised, proactive and very easy to work with. They have an excellent grasp of their subjects, execute with speed and precision, all while being very responsive.” Cited as being “entrepreneurial and driven practitioners with world-class skills”, Art Brion and Natalie Raffoul form the fulcrum around which the practice turns. Brion is an influential figure in the start-up community and a sought-after representative for companies spun off from universities. Business methods and software patents are bread and butter for Raffoul, who is a “creative, cost-effective, efficient and solutions-oriented partner”.

For more information: https://www.iam-media.com/directories/patent1000/rankings/canada

Ms. Dominique Lambert to attend BIO International Convention from June 3-6

Ms. Dominique Lambert will be representing the patent team at the BIO International Convention (BIO) being held in Philadelphia from June 3 to June 6, 2019.

https://convention.bio.org/

BIO attracts 16,000+ biotechnology and pharma leaders who come together to discover new opportunities and promising partnerships, bringing together a wide spectrum of life science and application areas including drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy.