May 10 2010
Rules amending the Patent Rules (SOR/2009-319, registered November 26 2009) were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on December 9 2009 and will come into force on October 1 2010. Although many of the amendments are essentially editorial in nature, they concern at least one matter of substance - the requirement for a 'declaration of entitlement' in a Canadian patent application.
Before June 2 2007, an applicant was required to register evidence (usually in the form of an assignment) that it was the legal representative of the inventor. Pursuant to amendments to the Patent Rules that came into force on June 2 2007, this requirement was removed and replaced with a requirement for a declaration as to the applicant's entitlement, as of the filing date, to apply for and be granted a patent.
Although the 2007 amendments were intended to simplify the application procedure, the complexity of the prescribed declaration of entitlement form has proven problematic. The form, which is based on a general purpose form prescribed in the Patent Cooperation Treaty Administrative Instructions, requires identification of a specific basis of entitlement selected from a prescribed list, including terms such as 'an agreement', 'consent' or 'transfer of entitlement' - none of which is defined in the Patent Act or the Patent Rules. Furthermore, the form requires specific dates to be attributed to most of these bases of entitlement.
The amendments coming into force on October 1 2010 will replace the requirement for the relatively complex declaration of entitlement document with a simple declaration that "the applicant is the legal representative of the inventor". The term 'legal representative' is defined broadly in the Patent Act to include "heirs, executors, administrators, guardians, curators, tutors, assigns and all other persons claiming through or under applicants for patents and patentees of inventions".
The consequence of any inaccuracies in a declaration of entitlement is uncertain. Therefore, applicants may wish to refrain from filing declarations of entitlement in anticipation of the entry into force of the amended Patent Rules on October 1 2010. This should at least be possible with respect to applications filed or entering the national phase on or after April 1 2010, as any term set for filing a declaration of entitlement could not expire before October 1 2010.
Finally, although neither the existing declaration of entitlement regime nor the simplified declaration procedure requires that an assignment from the inventor to the original applicant be registered in the Patent Office, provisions relating to assignments nevertheless remain in the Patent Act. The interplay between these provisions and the Patent Rules regarding the declaration of entitlement or simplified declaration is not entirely clear. In particular, while the Patent Rules suggest that an assignment to someone other than the applicant will not be recognized, the Patent Act provides that an unregistered assignment is void against a subsequent assignee's claim under a registered assignment. Therefore, where there is an assignment in favour of an applicant, one cannot preclude the possibility that, if the assignment is not registered, it might be considered void against a subsequent assignment if the subsequent assignee manages to register the subsequent assignment. In view of this possibility, applicants may wish to take the cautious course of registering assignments from the inventors to the original applicant.
ILO provides online commentaries as specialist Legal Newsletters. Written in collaboration with over 500 of the world's leading experts and covering more than 100 jurisdictions, it delivers individually requested information via email to an influential global audience of law firm partners and international corporate counsel. Please click here to register for the service.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
ILO is a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. In-house corporate counsel and other users of legal services, as well as law firm partners, qualify for a free subscription. Register at www.iloinfo.com.