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Going global: Canadians increasingly taking advantage of the global IP marketplace

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Intellectual Property Bulletin

Two major reports have confirmed the results of Fasken Martineau's 2016 IP Survey:  both the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization find that Canadians have an increasingly global outlook towards filing for Intellectual Property protection, and while increasingly filing domestically, Canadians also recognize the importance of filing abroad and taking advantage of the global IP marketplace.

IP Is Key to Businesses in Canada

Both our survey and the CIPO Report show that both Canadian and foreign business recognized the importance of IP.  Almost 60% of respondents recognized IP as a key priority for the business, in contrast to only 10% of survey respondents who identified IP as a low priority.


Increase in IP Filings in Canada

According to the WIPO Report, Canada ranks 12th in the world for patent filings and 16th in world for trademark filings, which is unchanged from 2014.  For residents filing patent and trademark applications at CIPO (e.g. Canadians filing at their national office), Canada ranks 19th and 15th, respectively.  Again, this is unchanged from WIPO's 2015 report on IP indicators.

However, 2015 saw a 4% increase in patent filings at CIPO, a trend continuing from 2014. While this hopefully signals a rebound in Canadian patent filings, the overall trend since 2006 has been a decrease in patent filings (down 12%). It will be interesting to see if the upward trend from 2014 and 2015 of a greater number of patent filings continues.

The bulk of the patent filings in Canada continue in 2015 to be made by non- Canadian residents.  The overwhelming majority (80%) were Canadian national phase entries of international patent applications (e.g. PCT applications).  The U.S. remains the largest international filer in Canada for all categories of IP rights. In 2015, American based entities applied for 49% of Canadian patent applications, 32% of trademark applications and 56% of Canadian industrial design applications.

The number of Canadian trademark filings continued to increase as well. Canadian residents filed 43% of Canadian trademark applications in 2015, a 6% increase over 2014.  The top non-Canadian filers of trademark applications in 2015 were entities from the U.S., Germany, the U.K., France, and China, accounting for 74% of non-resident applications and 42% of all trademark applications.

It would appear that IP filing activity in Canada continues to rebound since the 2008-2009 recession, despite the fact that Canada may have been in a recession for part of 2015 due to declines in energy prices.  As noted in the CIPO Report, the number of trademark filings in Canada trends to track GDP, while patent filings tend may reflect manufacturing activity. The increase in both patent and trademark filings may indicate an upward trend in GDP with, hopefully, a concomitant increase in at least manufacturing activity in Canada.

Canadian IP Is Global

As can be seen with the signing and proposed implementation of the Canada and European Trade Agreement ("CETA"), along with the discussions around the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"), IP rights have become key components of international trade deals.  Based on the CIPO Report, Canadians appear to be increasingly taking advantage of the expanding global IP marketplace.

Increase in IP Filings by Canadians

From 2005 to 2014, according to the CIPO Report, overall global IP applications by Canadians grew by 35%. According to the CIPO Report, Canadian IP filings outside Canada outpaced domestic IP filings by Canadians. As the Canadian IP landscape changes to make foreign IP protection easier for Canadians to achieve their global ambitions (e.g. The Madrid Treaty), Canadians can expect to continue to reap the rewards of IP globalization.


Respondents in the 2016 Fasken Martineau IP Survey clearly see IP as transnational: 80% sell products or make services available both in and outside of Canada.  Of those, 73% indicated that they sought IP protection outside of Canada; the majority (almost 70%) indicated that the principle jurisdiction in which they had sought to protect their IP rights was the United States. The CIPO Reports supports this as well: in 2014, Canadians filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") over 12,000 patents (65% of Canadian patent applications filed abroad), almost 7,000 trademarks (50% of Canadian trademark applications filed abroad), and 951 industrial designs (61% of such Canadian applications filed abroad).

The 2016 Fasken Martineau IP Survey also provides that jurisdictions other than the U.S. appear to be of interest, including Europe (approximately 54%), Japan (14%) and China (14%). The CIPO Report echoes these results.


Developing countries, however, appear to be of lesser interest in terms of seeking protection: India (9%) and Africa (9%) (see the 2016 Fasken Martineau IP Survey). This may reflect the growing role that developing countries are playing within an increasingly global market, but – in the case of India, China and Africa – may also reflect a perception that IP protection in these jurisdictions must become more effective, such that it justifies companies making the effort to obtain protection.

The increasing international IP filings by Canadians suggests that Canadians are looking outside their domestic market to drive business growth.


The CIPO and WIPO Reports confirm what the Fasken Martineau survey results suggested.  Canadians recognize the importance of filing for IP protection abroad, reflecting a trend towards a more global outlook. This trend highlights the importance of having a robust IP strategy in order to protect, grow and monetize Canadian companies' IP.  An increasingly multi-jurisdictional outlook should be a part of each Canadian company's IP strategy in order to ensure that their investment in IP contributes positively to the valuation of the company.

1 Penner, Mark and Beardwood, John. “2016 IP Survey Report: How Healthy is Your Company’s IP? A Temperature Check” Fasken Martineau, 2016. Web.
2 2016 IP Canada Report” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 2016. Web.
3 Idem


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