The federal government is moving quickly towards legalising the possession and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes. However, Canada's cannabis industry is already 'overgrown' with both licensed and unlicensed producers, all vying for consumers' attention. Brand owners, start-ups and so-called 'ganjapreneurs' in Canada's cannabis industry face a number of unique challenges and should strategise accordingly – ideally before launching a cannabis brand in Canada.
Although the new trademark law was finalised in 2014, it has yet to come into force. Before it can be implemented, the government must finalise new trademarks regulations and the Trademarks Office's IT system must be modified to accommodate the changes to the law. Once implemented, the changes will be the most significant in 50 years – both procedurally and substantively.
Canada launched its Patent Prosecution Highway programme in 2008 with the goal of fast tracking patent examination and improving patent quality. The programme has been a phenomenal success and offers numerous benefits to applicants. Data published by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office suggests that applicants which use it have their applications examined sooner and encounter fewer office actions.
Canadian IP law and practice saw significant developments in 2017, including the largest award for patent infringement in Canadian history and the Supreme Court's abolition of the controversial 'promise of the patent' doctrine. Further, in terms of foreshadowing a significant overhaul to Canada's IP legislation across all areas, 2017 was an active year.
There were a number of developments concerning biosimilars in 2017. For example, new certificates of supplementary protection now apply to biologics and numerous patent litigations involved biosimilars. In addition, Health Canada held a workshop and issued a report which notes that it intends to consult with stakeholders about the impact of the naming of biosimilars on prescribing, dispensing and pharmacovigilance needs.