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Aligning Canada’s trade-mark regime with modern business practices


Canada will be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern trademark world. In December 2009, CIPO issued a request for comments that would see amendments made to the Trade-marks Act to better align the Canadian system with the trademark systems used by major and minor countries.

Comments will be received until March 15, 2010, by fax or e-mail to the person specified in the request.

Stop the presses, gang! This consultation presages a major updating of the Canadian trademark system. In particular, the proposed amendments will allow Canada to sign on to the Madrid System for international trademarks, as well as the Singapore Treaty on trademark law. These changes are long overdue. Canadian businesses have been shut out of the ease of filing international marks for too long.

Send in your comments to CIPO.

It may be worth writing your federal Member of Parliament, to make sure that even this minority parliament makes these changes a priority.

This is CIPO’s second time of asking. Their first try was in 2005, which was, oh so 2005 ago. Some folks questioned the benefits to Canada of signing on.

There will be costs, of course. Canadian trade-mark owners will probably lose their lovely long 15 year registration period in favour of the 10 year registration period in place internationally.

But for any small- to even medium-size business in Canada that has tried to access the Madrid System, only to find out that their operations weren’t large enough to justify a “real and effective commercial establishment” in a Madrid jurisdiction outside Canada, any such costs will be well worth the better access to international protection of their Canadian trademarks.

So let your voices be heard. Canada is the only developed country not party to the Madrid System for international trademarks. It’s time we learned to play well with others.



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