Businesses seeking to protect brands for medical devices, protective equipment, medical services or medical research services relating to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment or cure of COVID-19 can now fast-track their Canadian trademark applications. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office ("CIPO") recently announced this significant change in practice. It is especially welcome given the significant trademark prosecution delays currently in CIPO.
Current trademark examination timeline
Trademark applications are generally examined in the order received by the Registrar. Requests for expedited examination are typically not considered by the Registrar, as the advancement of a trademark application out of order creates a favoured position at the expense of other applicants. The Trademarks Act and Trademarks Regulations contain no provisions concerning expediting the examination procedure for an application.
In the past, a trademark applicant would receive a first Examiner’s Report within 15 to 18 months from the filing date of an application. However, due to a backlog of trademark applications, it now commonly takes over two years for an applicant to receive a first Examiner’s Report. The newly launched COVID-19 fast-track initiative aims to expedite the examination timeline for eligible applications and help ensure Canadians have timely access to COVID-19 related goods and services.