Spotlight on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office Website

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Today we look “North of the Border” (or South, if you’re in Detroit) at the intellectual property office of the country that brought us Kids in the Hall and Rush. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) official website features a wealth of information on IP rights and regulations within Canada as well as a search system that covers over 2 million Canadian patent documents. In this post we’ll examine the contents and interesting features of this patent search system.

According to the “Currency of Information” page, the CIPO database is updated weekly. The search system includes the following features:

  • Bibliographic Databases such as Titles, Names and Classifications are searchable from 1869.
  • Text Databases such as Abstract and Claims are searchable from 1978-08-15.
  • The Issue date is searchable from 1869.
  • The Filing date is searchable from 1978-08-15.
  • The Priority date is searchable from 1989-10-01.
  • Images are available from 1920-01-01 except for Cover page and Abstract which are available from 1975.

This data dates further back than any other known source (INPADOC, for example has bibliographic data on Canadian patents dating back to 1874, not 1869 as listed here) although the value and completeness of extended coverage found on CIPO is not known.

The search syntax available in any of the search forms includes:

  • Standard Boolean operators – such as AND, OR, NOT
  • Wildcard/Truncation – the “*” operator defines 0 or more characters (unlimited) and “?” defines exactly one character
  • Proximity – the “” operator defines a proximity of between 1 to 1024 terms and paragraph, sentence, and order specific proximity operators are also available

The Advanced Search form is a fielded search form that accommodates a wide variety of fields including a few uncommon fields such as Canadian Patent Classification (CPC) and License Availability. Notably, full text is not searchable on the CIPO website; text searching is limited to Title, Claims and Abstract.

Canadian Patent Classification was “[t]he system used by Canada prior to October 1989 to classify inventions. Each application is assigned a main (primary) classification and can also be assigned multiple secondary classifications.”

“License availability” on the other hand, is defined as:

This field indicates whether the owner is willing to sell or license the rights to the patent. Since this data is voluntarily supplied by the owner, “N/A” means either No Licence Available or Data Not Given. Also, since owners may change their minds, further enquiries to the owner of the patent may be required to obtain a definitive answer.

After entering a search query, the results list (of up to 500 per page) are sorted by “relevancy.” Individual document view may include bibliographic information (including abstract), claims, and a representative drawing — viewing the full text, however, will require loading an image or downloading a PDF.

The CIPO website is worth checking out despite the lack of full text searching because it has a deep database of Canadian patent documents and excellent proximity searching syntax, not to mention the bonus of the Canadian Patent Classification system. All of these features can put the extra focus on Canada that may be needed in a targeted prior art search relating to “North of the Border” patents.

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Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was edited by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla.


3 Responses

  1. Note that while the database is ‘updated weekly’, that does not mean that it is updated with respect to any particular file. The office often has scanning backlogs of 3-6 months. In extreme cases amendments to the specification or claims will not show up until after issuance. If you are interested in a specific patent, always obtain a copy of the file record from CIPO (certified if you intend to rely upon it subsequently).

    To download full pdfs of the patents you can use an external tool such as

  2. Thanks for all the info James!

    That scanning backlog does seem like an issue. Do you know if it’s always been this way or is it a recent problem?

  3. Backlog has been a problem for a couple of years now. CIPO is trying to implement new technology to improve their processes, and have done a good job with respect to trade marks, but will likely take a few more years to fix patents.

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