In Ontario, patents are governed by national Canadian patent law. Patents are issued by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, or CIPO, and are valid for 20 years from the initial application filing date. Patent protection allows you to prevent anyone else from manufacturing or selling your invention without your permission. If your application is approved, patent protection will extend retroactively to your initial filing date, meaning you can sue someone who infringes your patent between the initial filing date and the final approval date.
Search the PatentScope search engine on the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization. This search engine allows you to examine abstracts of patents applications filed anywhere in the world to determine if your invention is truly novel.
Create a one-page abstract of your invention. Your abstract should summarize what your invention does and why it meets the three standards for patentability -- novelty, usefulness and ingenuity. Your invention can be "novel" even if it improves on a previous invention; however, in this case, only the improvement is patentable.
Draft detailed specifications that describe your invention. These specifications should include text, drawings, graphs and any other media that may be useful to you. It should be so detailed and complete that someone could use it to manufacture a prototype of your invention.
Submit your patent application on the CIPO website. Your application requires basic personal information -- such as your name and mailing address -- and your abstract, specifications and drawings. You must also pay a filing fee, which is $400 at of the time of publication. The filing fee is reduced to $200 for "small entities."
Request examination of your patent and pay a filing fee, which is $800 at the time of publication. The filing fee is reduced to $400 for "small entities." The CIPO will never examine your application unless you request it, but you must request examination within five years of your initial filing date.
Correspond with the CIPO concerning any requests for modification of your application that they might send you. Modification requests are routine -- the CIPO might ask you to narrow the scope of your request for patent protection, for example, to exclude certain technology that is very similar to already-patented technology. Don't be afraid to argue with the patent examiner if you believe he is wrong.
Ask for reconsideration of your application if it is denied. If it is denied after reconsideration, appeal to the CIPO's Patent Appeal Board. If this appeal is denied, you will have no further recourse.
Tips & Warnings
Unlike in the United States, Canadian patent law is based on a "first to file" system, which means that the first inventor who actually files for protection is awarded the patent. Under the U.S. "first to invent" system, the first inventor has priority over the first filer and can sue to have the first filer's patent revoked.
References & Resources
- Canada Questions and Answers: How to Apply for a Patent in Canada
- Business Development Centre: A Guide to Patents: Part I
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office: How Your Patent Application is Processed
- Canadia Intellectual Property Office: Patent Appeal Board
- World Intellectual Property Organization: PatentScope Search Engine
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office: Filing/Completing a Canadian Application for Patent
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