Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update: Amendments to Canada's Trade-Mark Act

Well, it's been ten months since Bill C-31, Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No.1, was tabled.   As you may recall, the Bill contains major amendments to the current trademark system, one of the most important of which is to eliminate use as a registration requirement.  It also allows for implementation of the Madrid Protocol and adoption of the Nice Classification of goods and services.  Of significance also, it reduces the renewal period to 10 years which seems to be of most interest to my clients.  

So, what progress has been made?   Not much really.  On June 19th, Bill C-31 received Royal Assent and is now the law in Canada.  The next day the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) released this document: Amendments to the Trade-marks Act: Questions and Answers

However, the new Law needs Regulations in order to actually function and CIPO produced a discussion document in October outlining the proposed regulations for comments.  If you are so inclined, you can read that here,

The consultation period ended on November 30 and no doubt numerous responses were filed.  Further consultations on fees and set up procedures and costs for Madrid Protocol applications are expected. 

CIPO has also held a couple of webinars in order to explain their perspective, the latest of which made it quite clear that full implementation of the amendments will not happen before early 2016.  For now, the current registration regime will remain in force and it is business as usual at CIPO. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pharmacare in Canada: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

Canadians pay an average of 50% more per capita on prescription drugs

Despite what I do for a living, I won't claim to know anything about pharmaceuticals, their patents and the generic drug industry but I thought Canada's patent law supported generic drugs to make drugs cheaper for us. Apparently not, Canadians pay an average of 50% more per capita on prescription drugs than residents of other developed countries.

I'm pretty healthy, knock on wood, and basically never have to take prescription drugs. So this whole pharmacare “debate” going on right now in Canada comes as a bit of a shock to me. I mean, really, it seems like a no brainer: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Medicines keep people healthy, help patients cope with difficult symptoms, avoid trips to the hospital and even save lives. They’re fundamental to modern health care. Apparently, about 40% of Canadians are engaged in “precarious employment” -- not enrolled in private drug plans, offered largely through the workplace. These folks, including myself, are left exposed to high prices for the medicines they need. Or they simply don't take them and end up in the hospital at the expense of the health-care system. 

Canada is the only country in the world that has a universal health-care system that doesn't cover the cost of prescription drugs


Apparently, Canada is the only country in the world that has a universal health-care system that doesn't cover the cost of prescription drugs.  As I understand it, publicly funded access to prescription drugs results in bulk buying power and this results in lower costs.

So what's the problem? Economist Bob Evans recently described the main obstacle for the implementation of universal pharmacare in Canada: “Anyone’s spending is somebody else’s income. Universal pharmacare could save billions to Canadians, so there are powerful corporate interests that will do everything they can to make sure it does not happen.” 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

Is your inbox suddenly flooded with emails asking "Do you wish to continue receiving ..."?

For my Canadian followers the answer is likely yes. And by now you are probably well aware that on July 1, 2014, Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) will come into force. CASL Regulations require companies to have consent from their customers before they are allowed to send them electronic marketing communications. Since I don't do electronic marketing (other than this on and off blog gig which you all have to actively opt into to view) and no clients were asking for advise, I wasn't too concerned with this new law.

But then last week I noticed that I was getting a lot of "undeliverable mail" notices. I ignored them for awhile thinking it was just some glitch but then I finally looked at a response and saw that the sender was actually one of MY email accounts. So was I sending out spam? Probably. Was it electronic marketing from a business? Possibly. If I didn't put a stop to it by July 1, would I be exposed to liability? Panic!

I fixed the problem but I can't help but wonder if this new law will have any effect on this kind of thing. I kind of doubt it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Exciting times in Canadian Trademark Law

 (And, yes, I do mean Trademark -- not trade-mark.)


We are so IN -- Madrid Protocol, the Nice Agreement and the Singapore Treaty

This year’s budget implementation bill proposes substantial changes to Canada’s trade-mark laws and practices designed to help ease our way into the international trademark treaty world of the Madrid Protocol, the Nice Agreement and the Singapore Treaty. You can go here to learn more about these at the World Intellectual Property Organization website.

Finally, no more tedious conversations about prior use

Of more interest, the Bill eliminates the requirement that a trademark must be used in order to be registered.  It also eliminates the concept of associated marks and distinguishing guise.   I know several of my clients and suspect most of the world will rejoice at this.  The Bill also includes amendments that reduce the registration term from 15 years to 10 years, allow for divisional applications and replace the spelling of “trade-mark” in Canada to “trademark”.

Bill C-31, the Economic Action Plan 2014 -- March 28, 2014

What’s really interesting here is that because these changes are in a Budget Bill, this WILL BE ENACTED with little change and with little or no public consultation.  

If you want (although I can't imagine why) you can read the Bill here .