The Canadian Intellectual Property Office - The Best of ALL Worlds: A Semester in Osgoode’s IP Intensive Program

Practical learning experiences are a great addition to regular classroom learning and Osgoode Hall is leading the way with great clinical education opportunities, especially the Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program (IP Intensive), which I was lucky enough to be a part of last semester.

I was extremely excited when I found out that my placement, as part of the IP Intensive, was at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). As the office that grants Intellectual Property (IP) rights to hopeful patent, trade-mark, copyright, and industrial design applicants, CIPO is at the heart of the IP system in Canada.

CIPO is truly the place for the student that wants to experience it all. I completed a variety of projects in all areas of IP. My whirlwind tour of the inner workings of the IP administration body of Canada took me through six departments; Trade-marks Branch, Trade-marks Opposition Board, Patent Branch, Patent Appeal Board, Copyright and Industrial Design Branch, and the Policy, Information and International Relations Office.

Each department provided its own unique assignments and opportunities. With the Trade-marks Opposition Board I primarily worked on drafting “section 45” decisions, relating to expungement of a trade-mark for non-use, and sat in on multiple trade-mark opposition hearings. At the Trade-mark Branch, Copyright and Industrial Design, and the Policy, Information and International Relations Office, my work usually consisted of writing memos and opinions on a variety of current legal issues. At the Patent Branch I had an intimate look at the job of a patent examiner including searching for prior art, assessing novelty and obviousness and writing office actions. I even had the opportunity to assess the novelty of patent claims based on prior art provided by the examiner. At the Patent Appeal Board, I worked on the re-examination of a divisional patent application, where the primary issue was double-patenting in relation to the parent patent application.

The range of experiences and assignments is really what makes the CIPO internship so unique. Where else could one draft a section 45 expungement decision, write a memo on university technology transfer, and assess the novelty of patent claims within a span of three weeks.

The placement was much more than the weekly assignments, however. Within each department I met with a variety of people who explained the complexities, duties and responsibilities of their department. I commonly attended meetings in each department from examiners’ meetings, where frequently encountered examination issues were collectively discussed and resolved, to CIPO’s litigation meetings, to meetings for the drafting of Regulations.  My Ottawa experience would not have been complete if I did not attend a Parliamentary hearing and I was lucky enough to attend a hearing held by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU), which covered a variety of contemporary IP issues, including counterfeit merchandise, university technology transfer, and start-up businesses.

I found CIPO to be an extremely interesting place to work as the organization represents the public interest. This encompasses a diverse range of stakeholders including agents, applicants, industries, and the public at large. Accordingly, I was able to see a broad spectrum of perspectives on IP throughout my internship.

I valued the opportunity to engage in practical legal work. While I enjoy in-class learning, nothing brings a legal education full-circle like practical experience in an area of interest. The opportunity to draft decisions and memos each day shed light on the day-to-day responsibilities of a lawyer, and the chance to engage with others in IP discourse improved my communication skills and instilled, in me, a sense of professionalism.

I am extremely grateful for the time I spent at CIPO. I gained a tremendous amount of insight into the inner workings of the IP system, including an intimate look at patent, trade-mark, copyright, and industrial design examination. The benefit of a placement like CIPO is that I was exposed to all aspects of the IP system, which allowed me to formulate new personal interests. As a law student with an undergraduate degree in biology I was always attracted to patent law, but to my surprise, I really enjoyed working in the policy and trade-mark areas. I appreciate the broad learning experience I received and I will always look back fondly at my time at CIPO.

Andrew Wayne is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law Intensive Program.  As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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