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Archive for the ‘Intellectual Property’ Columns

Federal Court’s Jurisdiction Over Contractual Intellectual Property Issues

The Federal Court of Appeal has clarified the Federal Court’s jurisdiction over contractual ownership issues as part of patent proceedings. Ownership of patents is often intertwined with the identification of inventors, assignments of patent rights and license agreements. The Federal Court hears most intellectual property cases in Canada and more certainty on the Court’s jurisdiction in this area is welcome.

As a statutory court, the Federal Court shares jurisdiction with the superior courts in certain areas and has exclusive jurisdiction on other matters. As it relates to intellectual property, the Federal Courts Act, Section 20 identifies areas of exclusive . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Clarity Around Use of a Trademark for Services on the Internet

Use is essential in Canadian trademark law. The Federal Court of Appeal has addressed the “use” of a trademark in association with services on the internet. in the context of a non-use cancellation action.

The Trademarks Act defines “use” in relation to services if the trademark “is used or displayed in the performance or advertising of those services”.[1] Courts have held that the mere advertising of services in Canada will not constitute use in Canada in association with a service. Some aspect of the services must be performed or delivered in Canada.[2] This is a fact based assessment . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Pre-Grant Compensation for Patent Infringement

What happens if someone infringed your patent application after you have filed your patent application but before it is granted? In many instances, this can be a surprisingly long period of time – typically several years. It can also be a crucial time in the development and commercialization for a new company. The Patent Act provides some relief, but you can only get a remedy after the patent has granted.

As an example, for patents granted in 2019, the median duration patent applications are pending between filing (international or national filing date) and grant at the Canadian Intellectual Patent Office . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Alberta’s Whistleblower Trap

There’s plenty wrong with Alberta’s Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Act (PIDA) as drafted that would give a whistleblower pause for concern. But at least you can read the Act and see what these are.

It is quite a different matter when the office of Public Interest Commissioner (PIC)[1] denies whistleblower protection by adding requirements that are simply not written in the Act. These added requirements – and the unpredictability that there may yet be further requirements in future complaints – set a trap for unsuspecting whistleblowers who are denied protection against employer reprisal.

Like other Canadian jurisdictions, whistleblower . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

When Is a Contract of Adhesion Unconscionable?

Vendors of goods and services utilize standard form contracts to reduce or minimize transaction costs and to ensure consistency in the terms applied to similar transactions. Since such contracts are offered on a “take it or leave it” basis there is no ability to negotiate terms and they are described as contracts of adhesion. There is a tendency in contracts of adhesion for the vendor using the standard form to use terms that benefit the vendor and disadvantage the other party. That trend has increased in electronic commerce transactions especially at the business to consumer level as terms have become . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Caution With Patent Demand Letters

Pre-litigation steps of putting parties on notice of allegations of patent infringement are common in Canada. Avoiding the cost and time of litigation though early resolution can make such notice very worthwhile, but recent decisions highlight risks of make aggressive claims of patent infringement.

In amendments to the Patent Act made in 2018, new sections create a framework for regulating the contents of patent infringement demand letters, but as of the date of this article implementing regulations have not been introduced. Section 76.2 added in 2018, states, “Any written demand received by a person in Canada, that relates to an . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Collective Licenses Under Copyright Are Not Mandatory

The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright) is a copyright collective meaning that it manages certain rights on behalf of copyright holders. Importantly Access Copyright does not itself hold any of the copyrights that it manages.

York University (York) is Canada’s third-largest university with over 50,000 students and approximately 1,500 full-time faculty members. York had a license to use some of the works licensed by Access Copyright from 1994 to 2010. Access Copyright applied to the Copyright Board for an interim tariff during a period when renewal negotiations were languishing. York initially complied with the interim tariff but then advised . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Summary Determination of Claim Construction

After a long wait, a couple of cases have used summary determination to decide issues of claim construction in patent infringement proceedings. In both cases, the claim construction resolution was determinative of non-infringement and the plaintiff’s case was dismissed. The decisions are subject to appeal.

In patent cases, determining the meaning of the words used in the claims of the patent is a key prerequisite for determining patent validity and infringement. Typically, expert evidence is introduced on the qualities of the skilled person appropriate for the patent at issue, the common general knowledge of this skilled person, and how the . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Privacy and Artificial Intelligence

The increased utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) has been identified as giving rise to numerous privacy concerns.[1] For illustration, “the data protection principle of limiting collection may be incompatible with the basic functionality of AI systems”. AI systems generally rely on large amounts of personal data to train and test algorithms, and limiting some of the data could lead to reduced quality and utility of the output.[2]

Another issue is that organizations using AI for advanced data analytics may not know ahead of time how the information that is processed by an AI system will be used or . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Findability of Prior Art

A couple of recent decisions have provided some clarity to what prior art can be relied on to show that a patent is obvious. One of the cornerstones of patent law is that a patent must be for an invention that is ‘inventive’ or ‘non-obvious’. This leads to the next question, “inventive” compared to what?

A car with a six-cylinder internal combustion engine may be inventive if all you have is a bicycle but may not be inventive if you already have a car with a four-cylinder internal combustion engine.

The Patent Act, in section 28.3, states:

28.3

. . . [more]
Posted in: Intellectual Property

Modern Patent Interpretation Reviewed

In Seedlings Life Science Ventures, LLC v. Pfizer Canada ULC, 2020 FC 1, Mr. Justice Sébastien Grammond presided over a patent infringement action in the Federal Court of Canada. The review is a helpful reminder of the modern approach to interpret patent claims.

Seedlings Life Science Ventures, LLC (Seedlings) is an early-stage health-care research and product development company. It alleges that Pfizer Canada ULC (Pfizer), infringes Seedings patent by selling in Canada an auto-injector commonly known as the EpiPen. While, at first sight, the EpiPen and Seedlings’s invention do not look alike, Seedlings argues that the EpiPen infringes certain . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

Model Protective Order for Federal Court

The Federal Court is trying to clarify the scope and typical terms of confidentiality and protective orders for use in the court. Keeping confidential information can be a key consideration in intellectual property proceedings where the adverse party is often a direct competitor and the subject matter of the dispute touches on trade secrets and business plans.

Since my previous column on this subject (see Protecting Your Confidential Intellectual Property Information in Court, May 2017), a split between various Prothonotaries and Judges led to significant uncertainty as to the preferred options for keeping information confidential in court proceedings.

In . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property