1. How Much Does a Patent Cost in Canada?
2. Small vs. Large Entities
3. The Canadian Patent Philosophy
4. Can it be Patented? 
5. The Anatomy of a Canadian Patent
6. The Canadian Patent Office
7. Get Help from UpCounsel

How Much Does a Patent Cost in Canada?

As of 2011, the standard patent application fee was $400 Canadian dollars. An examination of the patent requires a separate fee. The examination fee is CA$800. These costs apply to Canadian entities only.

Non-Canadian entities pay higher fees. The transmittal fee as of 2011 is CA$300.

The transmittal fee covers the receipt and validation of the non-Canadian application to ensure accuracy and completion.

Beyond the application and transmittal fee, there’s a search fee to ensure no similar patents already exist. The search fee (2011) is CA$1,600.

Here’s a menu covering additional fees that might be required:

  • Correcting clerical errors:  CA$200
  • Time extension request:  CA$200
  • Copies of the patent application document: From CA $0.50 per page to CA$10 per page.

Once issued, a patent requires a yearly maintenance fee. This fee varies over the life of the patent, increasing as the patent ages. In 2011, the annual maintenance fee ranged from CA$100 per year for years two through four to CA$650, for years 15 through 19.

Good news (for some): Small-entity discounts apply to these fees.

Small vs. Large Entities

Small entities are defined as businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Universities are defined as “small entities” regardless of size. Small entities get a 50 percent discount on all patent fees.

However, the Canadian patent office has certain safeguards in place to prevent large entities from taking advantage of the cost reductions. Small entity discounts don’t apply to any patents transferred to a large, non-university entity. Transfers to any university from a small commercial or non-profit entity are OK, however.

Further, the Canadian patent office specifies that small entities do not include (a) any entity that controlled directly or indirectly by an entity, other than a university, that employs more than 50 employees, or (b) any entity that has transferred or licensed or has any obligation, other than a contingent obligation, to transfer or license any right in the invention to an entity with more than 50 employees.

Any patent-filer requesting the discount must submit a declaration stating they believe they are entitled to pay fees proper to a small entity.

The Canadian Patent Philosophy

Canada realizes their technological advancement as a nation relies on encouraging innovation by granting monopolies on new ideas for a period after they are developed. This helps incentivize innovation and encourages further development.

Patents are limited in length. This is to further stimulate the advancement of technology and science. Currently, standard Canadian patents are limited to 17 years. However, for patents that hadn’t expired before July 12, 2001, the term is 17 years from the issued date or 20 years from the date it was filed – whichever date would expire the patent later.

A patent is the government’s guarantee that your invention can be called entirely your own for a maximum of 20 years (17 years standard). During this period, others are prevented from making, using, selling, or materially imitating your invention. You as an inventor thus have a chance to keep the proceeds of your genius, diligence, and inventive spirit.

However, the patent process comes at a cost beyond filing fees: It demands you provide a full description of your invention. This becomes public knowledge through the patent process. This is also by design. Your temporary monopoly is granted with an eye towards benefiting the common good.

Not all innovations are patented. Some inventors have a strong business case for not seeking a patent, specifically to avoid needing to disclose the inner workings or “recipe” lest it be closely imitated or instantly improved-upon. For example, Coca-Cola was never patented. Its recipe is a closely-held company secret. Another example is the composition of the plastic in Crocs shoes.

Can it be Patented? 

The patent-ability of an innovation has three notable criteria: novelty, utility, and inventiveness.

Not all innovations meet these three criteria. Some don’t meet any at all.

Canadian patents are granted only to the first inventor who applies. The quest for human knowledge being what it is, it’s good to check the process of your patent to make sure no other inventor had the same great idea you did, at just about the same time. Remember that the patent is granted to the first to file, not the first to think up the invention. You can prove you were the first to think of the new widget, but if you don’t follow the patent process (and follow it correctly), you’ll lose out.

CIPO (the parent of the Canadian Patent Office) maintains what is perhaps the largest collection of technical know-how in Canada. The office maintains information on over two million patent publications. These are open to public inspection, both in-person and on the web. These patents aren’t all earth-shattering. Many are “end-of-the-line” improvements on existing items. The march of progress is a history of incremental improvements. These are deserving of the same protection and encouragement of the more momentous brainstorms.

One valuable function of CIPO is to make technical information captured in the patents available to Canadian companies, organizations, think-tanks, and universities. They use the vast reserves of patented knowledge to advance their own studies and endeavors. The patent office thus is a great contributor to the common good, preventing companies and others from constantly reinventing the wheel.

Businesspeople, engineers, researchers, and students all use patent information to inspire or confirm their own research. They also use it to validate assumptions of the viability of their own ideas, and to view trends over time within different fields of study.

The Canadian Patents Database allows searches of patents going back to 1869 – back when Canada itself was invented as a nation separate from England. The database allows searches on keywords pertaining to the inventor, owner, applicant, international classification, and many other factors.

If you can’t find what you’re searching for online, or need a more direct experience of the Canadian patent process, the Canadian patent office is open to visitors. It’s located at Place du Portage I, Gatineau, Quebec.

Canadian Patent Assistance

A CIPO-registered patent agent is a specialist certified in the ways of Canadian patents law. Patent agents can help prepare, apply, and prosecute (meaning pursue) applications for Canadian patents. They can also help present the application to the CIPO, and serve as central points of coordination.

The patent agent’s life is a demanding one. Patent law anywhere is strict and follows definite timelines, requiring specific language and actions. Canada is no different. A Canadian patent agent can be a terrific help in securing a patent in Canada, especially if conflict is discovered, or other problems or challenges develop.
But beware: Not all who advertise as “patent agents” are CIPO-approved patent agents. Some haven’t been certified by CIPO. If you engage a patent agent, confirm their credentials with CIPO yourself.

The Anatomy of a Canadian Patent

A patent application consists of three parts: an abstract, a specification and, in most cases, drawings.

The abstract is a summary of the contents of the patent specification. This is a critical part not only in the patent application process, but in any efforts to secure the help of a certified patent agent. They’ll need to know what they are asking to get patented, what purpose it serves, and what makes it different.

Help your agent get a strong patent while avoiding unnecessary costs by starting off with a strong abstract.
When you file a patent, you’re filing a formal application to ask the Commissioner of Patents to patent your innovation.

Remember that all patents are not examined as a matter of course. If you want your patent examined, you must specify as such, and pay the examination fee.

Once your patent application has been made public, the public can provide feedback or ask questions. Any member of the public can contest your patent by filing what’s known as a “prior art” notification. This could cause the patent examiner to reject one or more of your claims, or perhaps your whole patent.

You can request expedited attention to your patent, and an accelerated examination. Maybe you want to get your business funding lined up as soon as possible to beat potential competitors who might not have a patent, but whose offerings are close enough to yours to suit buyers.

A patent is, at its simplest, a monopoly that the Government of Canada, and other governments in other countries, grants to inventors for a period (currently 17 years in Canada from the date of filing) for the exclusive right to make, sell, import, use or otherwise commercially exploit an invention.

In exchange, our society gains disclosure of the invention and free use of it after the patent expires, which is how innovation is fostered.

An invention must not have been made publicly available before you filed a first patent application covering it. The applicant has to be the original inventor, or his or her assignee, and not someone who has taken a product or process developed by someone else.

The invention must show utility in that it is functional and works as it’s supposed to.

You can start on your own when doing a patent search. In fact, it’s recommended. Once you have exhausted your own sources of information (and knowledge of the ins and outs of patent law), it pays to engage a professional patent searcher. This is one area where a night of searching Google or Bing just won’t do. Devote a few strenuous days to your own searching, then get a professional involved if you haven’t found someone else with the same idea.

The Canadian Patent Office

The Patent Office is a division of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Its mandate is to vet patent applications, process them, and maintain the information substantiating them.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, or CIPO, deals with patents, trademarks, and copyrights. It protects and furthers intellectual property rights on behalf of creators, as well as manage them with an eye towards benefiting the public good.

CIPO has enforcement power. If an issue touches upon patents in Canada, CIPO is involved.

Patent fees aren’t just another income stream for government. Managing patents is an extensive and involved process, demanding the time of serious professionals. Patent fees support this important function of the Canadian government, which is administered on behalf of the Canadian people.

The application fee is a minimal CA$400. The other fees accrue as the case grows more involved. At every step, the patent office is only asking to cover the true costs of administering the program. This includes the annual maintenance fees.
Maintenance fees increase at the patent ages. This allows the CIPO to eliminate deadwood. Patents on the books that aren’t maintained by their inventors are allowed to expire as they can be assumed to have been abandoned. This not only makes CIPO’s mission easier – it also returns the innovation to the public, allowing others to benefit if the inventor themselves were not able to follow-up on the temporary monopoly.

CIPO handles requests from all over the world, and they stay very busy with requests and updates. The increasing sophistication of human knowledge has increased demands on CIPO over the years. In the 19th century, an innovation might have concerned a better sort of mule harness. This was easy to draw and explain to a layperson. Nowadays, a patent might be a protein or a particular type of computer processor configuration. This has increased demands on CIPO, and they have risen to the challenge. Fees pay these costs.

Get Help from UpCounsel

If you’re feeling lost in the woods when it comes to Canadian patents, help is available. The legal pros in UpCounsel’s online marketplace can assist with your patent search and application. There are CIPO-certified agents available to help now. Our legal professionals have an average of 10 years of experience in dealing with issues like securing patents in Canada. Visit UpCounsel to see how they can help you!