Canadian Copyright Office; an Interview With CIPO Chief

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is a Special Operating Agency of Industry Canada. Industry Canada is responsible for the administration of intellectual property in Canada. The Copyright Office is part of CIPO. Below is an excerpt of an interview with newly appointed Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trademarks and Chief Executive Officer of CIPO, Sylvain Laporte.

1. How many copyright registration certificates are issued in Canada each year? 

(Note that the fiscal year end of CIPO is March 31. The figures below and reported throughout this interview reflect this year end. For example, 2000-2001 reflects the period from April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001.)

Statistics for the past few years are the following. In 2008-2009, 8,269 copyright certificates were issued; in 2009-2010, 9,021 copyright certificates were issued; and in 2010-2011, 8,824 copyright certificates were issued.

2. How does this compare to 5 or 10 years ago?

Registrations in 2010-2011 compared to 5 years ago (2005-2006) were higher by 7 percent. Registrations in 2010-2011 compared to 10 years ago (2000-2001) have increased by 27 percent.

3. Why is this number increasing?

Mr. Laporte did not provide any speculations on this question and merely stated that copyright registration is optional in Canada and that registration is a decision made by the copyright owner.

4. Are patent and trademark registration applications showing the same trend as copyright applications?

No. The trend in filings of applications for the registration of trademarks shows a decline in two consecutive years, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, but returned to nearly identical levels in 2010/2011 seen 3 years prior.

Economic uncertainty such as that caused by the recent global recession impacts the number of patent applications filed. Fiscal years 2009–2010 and 2010-2011 are cases in point; the Patent Office reported mild declines in new applications during these years.

5. How long does it currently take to obtain a copyright certificate upon filing an online application? A mailed-in application?

Our service standards are 5 days for online filing and 7 days for paper filing. Currently, it takes 2.9 days for the issuance of a copyright registration certificate upon filing an online application, and 6.5 days for a mailed-in application.

6. Is it true that CIPO will not even look at deposits accompanying copyright applications and that they return them upon receipt? (Note that under the Canadian registration system, there is no requirement to deposit a copy of the work with the copyright application.)


7. How many copyright searches are undertaken in the Copyright Registers each year? Is this number growing or shrinking?

2004/2005 2005/2006 2006/2007 2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011
84,435 96,414 147,403 167,751 191,424 223,449 229,687

The searches conducted in the Canadian Copyrights Database have been continuously growing for the past five years. The number of searches has increased by approximately 14% per year, with the exception of 2006/07, where 53% more searches were conducted online than the previous year. Searches conducted in 2010/11 have increased by 2% from the previous year.

8. What is the most misunderstood issue relating to copyright registration in Canada?

Although no formal research has been conducted, feedback received from CIPO’s Client Service Center indicates that some Canadians may not understand the role and scope of the Copyright Office. According to the Copyright Act and Copyright Regulations, the role of the Copyright Office is limited to receiving and processing applications for voluntary registration of copyright. The Office does not verify ownership or examine the work, nor is it able to offer advice on particular works as copyright subject matter, scope of protection, or matters of infringement. The public is advised that any such issues be resolved with the help of a legal professional knowledgeable in the area of intellectual property.

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