Canadian trademark law will be overhauled on 17 June 2019, with many significant changes – both procedural and substantive – coming into effect. This article discusses the important strategies to consider before these changes take effect, including tips that could save time and money now and in future.
In a pair of decisions, the Federal Court granted orders prohibiting Apotex and Teva from marketing their generic o-desmethyl-venlafaxine succinate products until the expiration of Patent 2,436,668. Both Apotex and Teva appealed the decisions, claiming – among other things – that the application judge had misapplied the test for obviousness and erred in considering several aspects of the inventors' course of conduct. However, the Federal Court of Appeal recently dismissed both parties' appeals.
A number of trademark cases were heard by the Canadian courts in 2018, including a decision on a motion for summary judgment brought by Duracell, a decision on whether Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited's trademarks were confusing in light of new survey evidence filed on appeal and a decision on whether retail store services require a brick-and-mortar establishment or direct delivery of products to Canada to constitute use of a trademark in Canada.
Canada's trademarks profession had an exciting 2018. The long-awaited changes to the Trademarks Act were announced, many of which will bring Canada into line with the rest of the world. In addition, further unexpected legislative developments were announced, which will significantly affect trademark protection.
The Ontario Court of Appeal granted Sanofi and Schering leave to amend their defences to plead the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in AstraZeneca Canada Inc v Apotex Inc. In the underlying action, Apotex relied on the invalidity decision in Sanofi-Aventis Canada v Apotex Inc as a central element of its novel claims under the Ontario Statute of Monopolies, the UK Statute of Monopolies and the Trademarks Act. Apotex recently applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
On the eve of a Section 8 trial, the Ontario Superior Court granted Abbott and Takeda leave to amend their pleadings to assert that Apotex's alleged non-infringing alternative was unlawful as it would have infringed a third party's patent. The court found that Apotex had not established that it would be prejudiced by the amendment, as any delay to the trial could be compensated by costs and an adjournment if appropriate.
A number of patent decisions were taken by the Canadian courts in 2018, including one concerning a relatively rare interlocutory injunction and several others decided on the merits. Damages totalling C$7,915,000 were awarded in one case based on lost profits and reasonable royalties, as well as compound interest, but the justice refused to award punitive damages. Several of the decisions remain under appeal.
Canada saw a range of disparate patent law developments in 2018, including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Separate from this, the second federal budget bill for 2018 introduced a series of amendments to the Patent Act, which concern diverse matters such as licensing commitments on standard-essential patents and the role of the prosecution history in claim construction.
There have been a number of key developments in Canadian life sciences IP and regulatory law over the past 12 months, including a consultation on the different approaches to the naming of biological drugs. Among other developments, four biosimilars were approved, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health announced revisions to its biosimilar and administrative review process and significant proposed amendments to the Patent Rules were released.
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office recently revised its practice notice regarding name and surname objections. Previously, examiners had to locate a minimum of 25 listings in Canadian phone directories before a name and surname objection could be raised. The revised practice notice indicates that "to better reflect the purpose of paragraph 12(1)(a)", effective immediately, examiners are no longer required to find a minimum number of listings before an objection under this section can be raised.
The Federal Court of Appeal recently allowed in part Apotex's appeal of a decision awarding Eli Lilly over C$100 million for Apotex's infringement of eight process patents relating to the antibiotic cefaclor. The court remitted the decision to the Federal Court for reconsideration solely on the issue of interest.
The Budget Implementation Act 2018, which recently received royal assent, introduced important changes to the Patent Act that will affect the scope of protection available under Canadian patents. Effective immediately, the amendments concern licensing commitments in respect of standard-essential patents, prosecution histories in claim construction, the experimental use of patented inventions, the scope of prior user rights and written demand requirements.
The government recently released its proposed new Patent Rules in the Canada Gazette. This is one of the last steps necessary for implementing the significant changes to Canada's patent law which are expected to come into force in 2019. Many of the changes intend to implement the Patent Law Treaty and help to minimise the risk of loss of rights, while others will reduce the rights of patent applicants and patentees.
A Federal Court order has issued on a motion to strike that was brought by Sandoz in four actions relating to the infringement of rituximab patents. The court declined to strike out the claims for damages and an accounting of profits on the basis that, at law, such remedies are unavailable in such an action. The court's treatment of the novel claims by Roche may be of interest to litigants under the current scheme of the Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) Regulations.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently overturned a motion judge's decision denying Sanofi and Schering leave to amend their defences to plead the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in AstraZeneca Canada Inc v Apotex Inc. The present action is one of several novel claims by Apotex seeking damages pursuant to the Ontario Statute of Monopolies and the UK Statute of Monopolies.
Section 22 of the Trademarks Act, depreciation of a registered trademark's goodwill, is a potentially powerful yet generally underused weapon for dealing with damaging comparative advertising campaigns. Dilution-type claims to prevent comparative ads displaying a registered trademark are particularly complex as they require that the advertising actually 'use' the registered mark within the meaning of the Trademarks Act.
After years of uncertainty, a date has been set for the implementation of Canada's new trademark law, which will come into force on 17 June 2019. The law will bring about significant changes, including the simplification of trademark applications, the elimination of the government registration fee for new applications and the introduction of fees per class.
Numerous and substantial amendments were recently made to the Industrial Design Act and the Industrial Design Rules. The amendments will modernise Canada's industrial design law and harmonise it with other jurisdictions. Among other changes, applicants may now file a divisional application for any design that is originally disclosed – not merely claimed – in a parent application as filed and choose whether to provide a description of the design or statement of limitation.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently dismissed Apotex's motion to plead promise-based invalidity grounds in a Section 8 lansoprazole action. Apotex claimed damages for delay in the issuance of its notice of compliance for its generic lansoprazole product due to prohibition applications commenced by Abbott and Takeda. Abbott and Takeda had pleaded patent infringement as a defence and brought a counterclaim for patent infringement. Apotex in turn challenged the validity of Takeda's patents.
The government recently introduced Bill C-86. The changes introduced by the bill are in addition to the many amendments to the Trademarks Act and Patent Act yet to be brought into force. These changes represent continuing efforts by the government to update and modernise Canada's IP legislation and ensure that it is compliant with Canada's international obligations.