Patents

Overview

Inventions, i.e. new, useful and inventive products, methods and uses, can be protected with patents.

We offer a full range of services related Canadian and foreign patents, including:

  • prior art searches and impact analysis on the patentability of inventions,
  • drafting, filing and prosecuting patent applications in Canada, the United States, Europe, at the international level (PCT) and abroad (over 130 countries),
  • research, analysis, and legal opinions regarding infringement, validity, freedom to operate as well as the state of the art, and
  • monitoring of new technologies.

We also offer IP advice and our services in litigation and arbitration and contracts, titles, and due diligence reviews related to patents.

We have a particular expertise in the following areas:

Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  1. Patent applications and processing times – What’s right for you

    Part 1: Four reasons to slow down and four reasons to speed up the process Part 2: Slowing down the process (CA, US, EP, PCT) Part 3: Fast track (CA, US, EP, PCT) Part 1: Why slow down or speed up the process? Slowing down the process Why would anyone want to slow down the process when it already usually takes several years for a patent to be issued? Cash flow Uncertainty for competitors Possibility of changing the scope Possibility of filing a divisional application In some cases, cash flow may justify spreading expenses over a longer period of time. Keeping an application pending longer may also be beneficial from a business perspective. In fact, it could create uncertainty for competitors, who cannot easily determine the scope of the exclusive right that may be granted to you. Moreover, claims are easier to amend while the application is pending. Lastly, filing a divisional application is usually only possible when the parent patent application is still pending. Speeding up the process If slowing down the process is so advantageous, why speed it up? Proof of patentability before expanding the patent application family Monetary valuation or capital raising Proceedings before the courts Strong negotiating position After filing a priority application, the applicant has 12 months to file corresponding applications in other countries. Filing abroad can entail considerable expenses. It may therefore be advantageous to obtain results quickly so you can make the best decision about filing applications in other countries. An issued patent is a far better indication of a technology’s value. This can have a major impact on a company’s valuation and, at the same time, allow for additional capital to be raised. Moreover, filing a patent application will not prevent infringers from marketing your technology; you may only commence proceedings in front of the court with an issued patent. The possibility of instituting legal proceedings could drastically change the tone of negotiations with your competitors—and sometimes your suppliers, too. Strategies and costs Special provisions exist to speed up and slow down the process in many territories. For the purposes of this exercise, we will discuss patent applications in Canada, the United States and Europe. We will also look at international patent applications, namely PCT applications. Part 2: Slowing down the process Canada With regard to slowing down the process, the simplest strategy in Canada is to wait before requesting examination as much as possible. While the provision for this has changed over the years, applicants now have four (4) years from the date of filing a Canadian application to request an examination. For PCT national phase entry, Canada allows an extension of the standard 30-month time limit to up to 42 months under certain conditions. However, examination request dates and maintenance fees remain the same. Therefore, this is beneficial in the short term only. For each examiner’s report (also called office action), it is possible to request an extension of the time limit by two months before the original time limit expires. This request must be accompanied by the late fee and is only accepted under certain conditions. The other option is to not reply to the examiner’s report and to wait until the application is deemed abandoned. The application may then be reinstated by filing a response to the examiner’s report and paying an additional fee. It is important to note that a Canadian application is no longer eligible for accelerated processing if an extension of the time limit was obtained for it or it was reinstated. Furthermore, while an application is abandoned, and even if it is later reinstated, third parties could obtain certain rights to the technology. United States In the United States, an extension of time fee may be paid at the same time as the reply to an examiner’s report is filed. However, the maximum time limit must not exceed six (6) months. It is also possible to file a request (or petition) for the suspension of the time limit for replying to an examiner’s report (by paying the relevant fee, of course). This request is only acceptable under certain conditions and cannot exceed six (6) months. Similarly, a request may be filed to defer the examination of the application, which may delay examination by up to three (3) years after the priority date. Once again, certain conditions must be met and there is a fee to pay. Europe As is the case for Canada, for each examiner’s report, a request can be made to extend the time limit by two (2) months before the original time limit expires. However, unlike in Canada, there are no fees or conditions for this request to be accepted. The other option is to not reply to the examiner’s report and to let the application lapse. The application may then be reinstated by filing a response to the examiner’s report and paying an additional fee. As for the 10-day rule, it will continue to apply until November 2023. This rule, which was established at a time when communications were still sent by mail, provides that a dated communication is deemed to have been delivered ten (10) days after the date of the document—the time limit is therefore automatically extended by ten (10) days. All things considered, the elimination of this rule is a plus in helping prevent various communication problems. PCT When it comes to slowing things down, the PCT application itself may be used to slow down the process. In fact, the international patent application system provides allows a decision on international applications to be made as late as 30 months from the priority date. The PCT system is based more on the reservation of rights than on slowing down the process. Nevertheless, both from cash flow and filing strategy standpoints, the longer time limit for making decisions may be beneficial. Summary–slowing down the process CA: Postpone filing the Canadian application or entering the national phase. Push back the examination request. Apply for an extension of the time limit. Do not respond, then apply for reinstatement. US: Pay time limit extension fees. Submit a request to suspend processing. Submit a request to defer the examination. EP: Apply for an extension of the time limit. Apply the 10-day rule. Do not respond, then pay the fees to have the application reinstated. PCT: Take advantage of the 30-to-42-month extension for each country. Part 3: Fast track Canada Of course, the best way to speed up the process is to request an examination as soon as possible and, above all, not put off replying to the examiner’s reports received. After requesting an examination and before receiving the first examiner’s report, it is possible to request that the application be processed expeditiously. The request requires that the Canadian application be published and it may be subject to a number of conditions. An applicant whose rights may be prejudiced by the examination time limit can pay an additional fee to expedite the process. When a patent application relates to so-called green technology or the COVID-19 pandemic, the notion of prejudice does not apply and no fee is due. Speeding up the process is also possible by taking advantage of the outcome of a corresponding application in another jurisdiction deemed credible by the Canadian Patent Office (e.g., Europe, United States, Japan, etc.). This is referred to as a PPH (patent prosecution highway) request (the French translation by “autoroute de traitement des demandes de brevet”, while quite accurate, is rarely used). United States Those who have the means to do so may pay an acceleration fee when filing the application in the US. The intent is then to complete the entire process within 12 months. The ability of the US Patent Office to meet the expectation is also taken into consideration before accepting the request. Special treatment may also be requested for a patent application where the health or age of one of the inventors warrants this. Such a request may also be made when the technology in the patent application is “green” or relates to “counterterrorism.” The US also takes part in the PPH system, and the decision made regarding a corresponding application in another jurisdiction can also help speed up the process. Evidently, it is important not to delay replying to the examiner’s reports received, no matter how else you may choose to accelerate the process. Europe The European Patent Office accepts PPH requests and also offers the “PACE” programme, which helps speed up processing times (search and/or examination) without any fees or specific conditions other than responding to examiner’s reports in a timely manner. The European Patent Office’s ability to handle the requests is also taken into account. PCT Quickly completing national phase entries (i.e., well before the 30-month time limit) makes it possible to proceed faster with the substantive examination in each jurisdiction. During the international phase of the PCT, attempts can be made to move the process along before entering the national phase. This procedure often dubbed as a “Chapter II request” does not guarantee that time will be saved, but certain questions may be anticipated thus avoid multiple delays in front of different examiners. Summary – speeding up the process CA: File the Canadian application or enter the national phase as soon as possible. Make the examination request as soon as possible. Respond quickly to examiner’s reports. Request accelerated processing based on PPH, green technology, COVID-19 technology or possible prejudice. US: Pay acceleration fees when filing. Request accelerated processing through the PPH system. Respond quickly to examiner’s reports. Submit a petition to make the application special (on the basis of age or health, green technology or counterterrorism technology). EP: Request access to PACE programme. Request accelerated processing through the PPH system. Quickly respond to examiner’s reports. PCT: Enter national phase as soon as possible. Apply for examination under “Chapter II.”

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  2. Ten things you should know about the amendments to Quebec’s Charter of the French language

    Quebec recently enacted Bill 96, entitled An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which aims to overhaul the Charter of the French language. Here are 10 key changes in this law that will impose significant obligations on businesses: As of June 1, 2025, businesses employing more than 25 people (currently the threshold is 50 people) for at least six months will be required to comply with various “francization”1 obligations. Businesses with between 25 and 99 employees may also be ordered by the Office québécois de la langue française (the OQLF)2 to form a francization committee. In addition, at the request of the OQLF, businesses may have to provide a francization program for review within three months. As of June 1, 2025, only trademarks registered in a language other than French (and for which no French version has been filed or registered) will be accepted as an exception to the general principle that trademarks must be translated into French. Unregistered trademarks that are not in French must be accompanied by their French equivalent. The rule is the same for products as well as their labelling and packaging; any writing must be in French. The French text may be accompanied by a translation or translations, but no text in another language may be given greater prominence than the text in French or be made available on more favourable terms. However, as of June 1, 2025, generic or descriptive terms included in a trademark registered in a language other than French (for which no French version has been registered) must be translated into French. In addition, as of June 1, 2025, on public signs and posters visible from outside the premises, (i) French must be markedly predominant (rather than being sufficiently present) and (ii) the display of trademarks that are not in French (for which no French version has been registered) will be limited to registered trademarks. As of June 1, 2022, businesses that offer goods or services to consumers must respect their right to be informed and served in French. In the event of breaches of this obligation, consumers have the right to file a complaint with the OQLF or to request an injunction unless the business has fewer than five employees. In addition, any legal person or company that provides services to the civil administration3 will be required to provide these services in French, including when the services are intended for the public. As of June 1, 2022, subject to certain criteria provided for in the bill, employers are required to draw up the following written documents in French: individual employment contracts4 and communications addressed to a worker or to an association of workers, including communications following the end of the employment relationship with an employee. In addition, other documents such as job application forms, documents relating to working conditions and training documents must be made available in French.5 As of June 1, 2022, employers who wish to require employees to have a certain level of proficiency in a language other than French in order to obtain a position must demonstrate that this requirement is necessary for the performance of the duties related to the position, that it is impossible to proceed using internal resources and that they have made efforts to limit the number of positions in their company requiring knowledge of a language other than French as much as possible. As of June 1, 2023, parties wishing to enter into a consumer contract in a language other than French, or, subject to various exceptions,6 a contract of adhesion that is not a consumer contract, must have received a French version of the contract before agreeing to it. Otherwise, a party can demand that the contract be cancelled without it being necessary to prove harm. As of June 1, 2023, the civil administration will be prohibited from entering into a contract with or granting a subsidy to a business that employs 25 or more people and that does not comply with the following obligations on the use of the French language: obtaining a certificate of registration, sending the OQLF an analysis of the language situation in the business within the time prescribed, or obtaining an attestation of implementation of a francization program or a francization certificate, depending on the case. As of June 1, 2023, all contracts and agreements entered into by the civil administration, as well as all written documents sent to an agency of the civil administration by a legal person or by a business to obtain a permit, an authorization or a subsidy or other form of financial assistance must be drawn up exclusively in French. As of September 1, 2022, a certified French translation must be attached to motions and other pleadings drawn up in English that emanate from a business or legal person that is a party to a pleading in Quebec. The legal person will bear the translation costs. The application of the provisions imposing this obligation has, however, been suspended for the time being by the Superior Court.7 As of September 1, 2022, registrations in the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights and in the Land Registry Office, in particular registrations of securities, deeds of sale, leases and various other rights, must be made in French. Note that declarations of co-ownership must be filed at the Land Registry Office in French as of June 1, 2022. The lawyers at Lavery know Quebec’s language laws and can help you understand the impact of Bill 96 on your business, as well as inform you of the steps to take to meet these new obligations. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the Lavery team members named in this article for assistance. We invite you to consult the other articles concerning the modifications made to Quebec’s Charter of the French language: Trademarks and Charter of the French language: What can you expect from Bill 96? Amendments to the Charter of the French Language: Impacts on the Insurance Sector “Francization” refers to a process established by the Charter of the French language to ensure the generalized use of French in businesses. The OQLF is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Charter of the French language. The civil administration in this law includes any public body in the broad sense of the term. An employee who signed an individual employment contract before June 1, 2022, will have until June 1, 2023, to ask their employer to provide them with a French translation if the employee so wishes. If the individual employment contract is a fixed-term employment contract that ends before June 1, 2024, the employer is not obliged to have it translated into French at the request of the employee. Employers have until June 1, 2023, to have job application forms, documents related to work conditions and training documents translated into French if these are not already available to employees in French. Among these exceptions are employment contracts, loan contracts and contracts used in “relations with persons outside Quebec.” There seems to be a contradiction in the law with regard to individual employment contracts which are contracts of adhesion and for which the obligation to provide a French translation nevertheless seems to apply. Mitchell c. Procureur général du Québec, 2022 QCCS 2983.

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  3. Kickstarting Examination in View of Upcoming Changes to Canadian Patenting Practice

    As we reported earlier, the Canadian government published proposed amendments to the Patent Rules in July 2021, to further streamline Canadian patent examination to pave the way for a future patent term adjustment (PTA) system in Canada as per the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), as well as to bring Canadian practice in line with the new Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) ST.26 sequence listing standard. The amended Patent Rules (the “new Rules”) have now been published in their final version and are substantially the same as the 2021 proposal. Since most of the new Rules will come into force on October 3, 2022, Applicants should strongly consider requesting examination by Friday, September 30, 2022, to avoid the new excess claim fee and RCE regimes, as elaborated below. Excess claim fees The new Rules will introduce government excess claim fees of $100 CAD for each claim beyond 20 claims. These fees will be payable when requesting examination and will be re-assessed upon allowance to determine if further claim fees are due when paying the final fees, based on changes in claim number during examination. A multiple-dependent claim or a claim listing alternative elements will count as a single claim for fee calculations, thus using such claim formats will not further increase such fees. Importantly, such fees will be determined based on the maximum number of claims present in the case at any time during examination, therefore the addition of claims beyond 20 during examination will incur fees that cannot later be reduced or avoided by subsequently removing claims before allowance. For example, if an application contained 15 claims when requesting examination, which were amended to 30 claims during examination and later reduced to 18 claims for allowance, excess claim fees of $1000 CAD ((30-20) x $100) would still be payable at allowance, even though the application did not contain more than 20 claims when requesting examination or at allowance. Therefore, under the new system, minimizing or avoiding claim fees shall require not only limiting the number of claims when requesting examination, but also limiting their number throughout examination. Since many applications are originally filed with numerous claims, controlling such fees shall entail amending the claims prior to or when requesting examination. It should be noted that Canadian patent law, unlike that of the United States, does not include a continuation practice. Therefore, voluntary divisional applications are generally not recommended in Canada in view of double patenting under Canadian law, and there are no terminal disclaimers or equivalent remedies to address double patenting objections in Canada. These unique aspects of Canadian patent practice may limit the subject matter that may be pursued in divisional applications and will need to be given careful consideration by Applicants when devising a strategy to reduce the number of claims in view of the new Rules. Request for Continued Examination (RCE) The new Rules will also introduce an RCE system, with the goal of putting an application in condition for allowance with no more than three Examiner’s reports. Continuing examination beyond three reports would require the filing of an RCE, which would entitle the Applicant to up to two additional Examiner’s reports, following which a further RCE would be required to continue examination, and so on. The filing of an RCE may also be used to return an allowed case to examination, allowing the filing of amendments after allowance, thus replacing the current practice of requesting withdrawal of the Notice of Allowance. The RCE fee is on the order of $816 CAD and will be adjusted slightly on an annual basis. Conditional Notice of Allowance (CNOA) The new Rules introduce a Conditional Notice of Allowance that would inform the applicant that the application would be allowable but for minor defects that must be addressed along with payment of the final fee. If the Examiner does not consider the application to be allowable following the applicant's response to the CNOA, allowance will be withdrawn, the final fee will be refunded and examination will resume. New PCT Sequence Listing Standard In view of the new PCT “ST.26” sequence listing standard, Canada has brought its sequence listing requirements in line with those of the PCT as of July 1, 2022. Since applications having a PCT filing date prior to this date may utilize the current ST.25 standard or the new ST.26 standard when entering the Canadian national phase, use of the new standard is not imminent for Canadian national phase filings, however new direct (non-PCT) filings in Canada will need to utilize the new standard as of July 1, 2022. Act now! Since the new claim fee and RCE regimes will only apply to applications in which examination is requested on or after October 3, 2022, it will be very advantageous for Applicants to request examination before this date to be “grandfathered” into the current system, allowing such cases to avoid excess claim fees and RCEs throughout examination even after the new Rules come into force. Applicants should thus strongly consider requesting examination by September 30, 2022. To help optimize prosecution strategy for a given case or for any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our patent team for guidance through the transition.

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  4. Celebrating youth innovation!

    This year’s World IP Day is upon us, with the theme “IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future”. In honor of this theme (and at the risk of making our adult readers feel a bit less accomplished), we thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of these wonderful inventions of young, innovative minds. US 8,371,246: Device for drying pets  In 2011, 9-year-old Marissa Streng invented a device to more effectively dry her pet dog Mojo after his baths. The product is now apparently sold under the brand Puff-N-Fluff. US 7,726,080: Under-floor storage   At the age of 14, Rebecca Hyndman patented an under-floor storage system intended for use in locations where tile floors are normally used, such as in kitchens and in bathrooms. As a result of this achievement, she was given the honor of introducing President Obama at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, immediately prior to his signing the America Invents Act into law. US 6,029,874: Article carrying device for attachment to a bicycle for carrying baseball bats, gloves and other sports equipment or objects   Biking to baseball practice can be quite the challenge when one has to carry both a bat and a glove simultaneously. From this problem sprang the “Glove and Battie Caddie”, invented by Austin Meggitt at the age of eleven. The Glove and Battie Caddie holds a baseball, bat, and glove on the front of a bike. US 7,374,228: Toy vehicle adapted for medical use   At the age of 8, young Spencer Whale invented a toy vehicle adapted for transporting a child and their required medical equipment. According to the patent, the toy allows children who are hooked up to medical equipment to move more freely around a hospital, with the intention of making their stay more enjoyable. US 5,231,733: Aid for grasping round knobs   One of the youngest people to obtain a patent was Sydney Dittman of Houston, Texas. In 1992, when Sydney was only 2 years old, she invented a tool out of parts of her toys in order to open kitchen drawers that her parents had told her to stay out of. Upon noticing that the device would be great for handicapped people to use, her father started the patenting process, and the resulting patent issued when Sydney was only 4 years old. Please join us to celebrate youth innovation on this World IP Day!

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  1. Lavery supports Domain Therapeutics in obtaining US $42M in financing

    On May 10, 2022, Domain Therapeutics, a Franco-Canadian biopharmaceutical corporation specializing in research and development of innovative immuno-oncology treatments, announced the close of a US $42 million Series A financing round. This investment is a major step in the Franco-Canadian firm’s growth that aims to provide cancer patients with treatment solutions to overcome GPCR-mediated immunosuppression mechanisms. Mr. Alain Dumont, a partner at Lavery, had the privilege of supporting the corporation through this important transaction. Throughout his long-standing relationship with Domain Therapeutics, Mr. Dumont has lent his expertise to protect the company’s technologies and innovations by answering questions from investors, in particular. Lavery is immensely proud of Mr. Dumont’s work in securing this funding. — Domain Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, based in France and Canada, is dedicated to discovering and developing novel medicine candidates targeting G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a key drug target class. The company focuses on producing high value-added immuno-oncology drug candidates.

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  2. Serge Shahinian is recognized as a leading patent practitioner in the 2021 IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Professionals

    Serge Shahinian, partner and patent agent in the firm’s Intellectual Property Group, has been recognized as a leading patent practitioner in the 2021 edition of the directory IAM Patent 1000: The World’s Leading Patent Professionals. This distinction was determined, among other things, through exhaustive peer-reviewed surveys. The professionals are ranked in the directory based on a recognition of market share, exceptional skills, and in-depth knowledge of patent matters.

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