Under the Start-Up Visa program, the Program targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that (1) are innovative, (2) can create jobs for Canadians, (3) can compete on a global scale.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program (SUV) links immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups. So, there must be an immigrant entrepreneur with a potential business in which the business must be innovative. Besides, the entrepreneurs must meet some conditions such as passing standard health and security criteria, ability to communicate in either English or French, have completed one year of study at a post-secondary institution, and have enough money to live on while establishing the start-up business in Canada.

Therefore, the answer is the SUV program not necessarily need a patent, because technically speaking a patent is granted only for (1) the physical embodiment, for example, the description of a possible product out of an idea or for (2) a process that produces something tangible or that can be sold.

A scientific principle, an abstract theorem, an idea, some methods of doing business or a computer program cannot be patented.

Considering the most innovative businesses that are trying to establish in Canada under the SUV program are some computer program, it is essential to understand that although computer code by itself is not something physical and therefore not patentable by law, a computer program may offer a new and inventive solution to a technological problem by modifying how the computer works. Under these circumstances, a computer-implemented invention may be patentable.

Why Patents?

Based on the guideline published by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office[1], Canada is a technologically sophisticated nation and depends on the patent system for scientific advancement and economic strength. The basic concept is that patents protect investments and allow inventors to profit financially from their creativity.

What is the difference between patents and other forms of IP?

Patents cover new and useful inventions which can be either product, composition, machine, process or any new and useful improvement to an existing invention[2].

A patent is a national concept, and it would be protected wherever it was filed. In Canada, the Government gives the inventor the right to stop others from making, using or selling the invention from the day the patent is granted to a maximum of 20 years after the day on which was filed the patent application. The applications are open to public inspection 18 months from the earlier of the filing date in Canada, or the filing date in another country if you request it and satisfy certain conditions (this date is known as the “convention priority date”—see applying for a patent outside Canada).

But there are differences between patents and trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies, which are other types of Intellectual Property or IP:

  • Trademarks may be one or a combination of words, sounds or designs used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or organization from those of others.
  • Copyright provides protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs) and another subject-matter is known as performer’s performances, sound recordings and communication signals.
  • Industrial designs are the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament, or any combination of these features applied to a finished article.
  • Integrated circuit topographies are the three-dimensional configurations of electronic circuits embodied in integrated circuit products or layout designs.

Then there is another concept known as “the trade secret,” which is to protect the creation by merely keeping its information secret and selling the creation.

What can be patented?

A patent is granted only for (1) the physical embodiment, for example, the description of a possible product out of an idea or for (2) a process that produces something tangible or that can be sold; therefore a scientific principle, an abstract theorem, an idea, some methods of doing business or a computer program cannot be patented.

Generally speaking, there are three essential criteria for patentability:

a)      Novelty: it must be the first of its kind in the world.

b)      Utility: it must work and have a useful function

c)      Inventiveness: it must be (1) a new development or (2) an improvement of an existing technology that would not have been obvious to someone working in your area of specialty.

The invention can be the product itself, or composition used for a product, or the machine for making that product, or a method or process to make a product or an improvement on any of these in which 90 % of patents are for improvements to existing patented inventions.

If the invention is an improvement, then there must be an agreement between the patentees to avoid the infringement of the original patent and grant a licence to each other.

How to File a Patent in Canada?

It is better to consult the Canada government (CIPO) lists of registered Canadian patent and trademark agents who are qualified and entitled to act on the inventor’s behalf with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Registered patent agents are specialists who must pass a rigorous examination in patent law and practice before being allowed to represent inventors before CIPO.

Filing involved a very complicated job: Preparing and prosecuting. Prosecution includes corresponding with CIPO, taking actions set out in the Patent Act and Rules within strict timelines, making any necessary changes to the application and fixing the legal scope of the patent protection.

All this requires a broad knowledge of patent law and Patent Office practice—knowledge you can expect from a registered patent agent. A trained patent agent will make sure your application is correctly drafted, so your invention is adequately protected. Hiring such an agent is not mandatory, but we highly recommend it. A patent agent must be appointed by law if the inventor has transferred some or all of his rights to the invention.

CIPO provides a list of registered patent https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr04549.html

The inventor must pay fees at various times during the patent application process, and after a patent is granted. An application fee, an examination fee, a final fee, and a maintenance fee must be made. https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr00142.htmln

A patent application consists of the following steps:

1.      Preparing an abstract, a specification and, in most cases, drawings: The abstract is a brief summary of the contents of the specification, and The specification is made up of (a) a clear and complete description of the invention and its usefulness; and (b) claims that define the boundaries of the protection that the inventor’s patent will give the inventor. The drawings must clearly show all parts of the invention. The role of the drawings is to clarify the principles of how a device is constructed rather than to provide all of the particular details of dimensions or relative proportions.[3]

2.      Preparing a statement to assist the patent agent: that covering the important points such as the field of the invention, a broad description of the invention, the objectives of the invention (that is, its main practical advantages over existing practices or products), the preferred practice and  the most appropriate use of the invention, with details of at least one practical application, the features of the invention that are new and distinct from what has come before, whether these features are patented or not, the scope of the invention for example, the materials, compositions, conditions, etc. used to obtain good results, the invention’s limitations for example, if good results can be obtained throughout the given range of the invention, or if there are exceptions, the results of laboratory or commercial tests showing the patent’s preferred practice and the conditions under which poor or dangerous results could be expected, a lists of relevant patents or technical articles the inventor has already found in any literature search, including full details such as: name of the inventor, number of the patent, country and date of issue or name of the periodical and its date with a list of the similarities and differences of practices or products that are relevant to the invention, any disclosure the inventor has made, the inventor’s name, address and citizenship, and finally all countries in which the inventor would like to file for a patent

3.      Filing a patent application: it means preparing a formal application and asking the Commissioner of Patents to grant the inventor a patent. A complete patent application includes the information required to obtain a filing date as well as the following: Formal petition for grant of a patent, Abstract of the invention, Claim or claims to the invention, Any drawings mentioned in the description, A biological sequence listing, if applicable, in electronic format, Appointment of a patent agent, when required, The application fee, A signed small entity declaration, if applicable, A statement of entitlement, and the names and addresses of the inventors.

4.      Filing a request for the examination: the inventor must formally request an examination and pay the examination fee. This request must be made within four years of the Canadian filing date. Examiner does search for prior publications and studies the application, then the examiner either approves or objects to the application. Then the applicant must respond to the examiner’s objections and requirements, then the examiner reconsiders and either approve or calls for further amendments.

[1] A guide to patents, read online https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr03652.html  

[2] Ibid

[3] Please read online https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr03652.html

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