The Inaugural Zoom Class of 2020 (IP Intensive Reflection)

This semester, I had the privilege of being able to take part in the inaugural Zoom class of the Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program at Osgoode Hall Law School. Pre-COVID, the program comprised of a two-week intensive seminar followed by a full-time legal internship at one of the program’s partners. However, when the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year, there was tremendous uncertainty as to whether the program would continue as planned; and if so, how?

I consider it to be a great blessing that the program not only continued but thrived notwithstanding the challenges of COVID-19. The two-week intensive held on Zoom was astutely condensed to avoid the dangers of “Zoom-Fatigue” – a subject about which I have written in one of my other blog posts. Thereafter, students were to complete their placements solely online while continuing to attend periodic Zoom classes sprinkled throughout the remainder of the semester. I’d like to take this moment to commend not only the program’s administrators, but also the placement partners for continuing to execute upon its obligations to the program. The pandemic would have made any objection justifiable given the state of the world; however, thanks to the work of many, we were all able to continue with the program.

I was fortunate enough to have been selected for a placement with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO); a position that would have traditionally required myself to relocate to Ottawa. And despite missing out on some “social” gatherings that would have taken place but for COVID-19, my mentor at CIPO quickly made me feel welcome to the team with pre-scheduled weekly updates even before my arrival – both professional and non-professional – that bridged the gap quite nicely.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is a special operating agency of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada that delivers intellectual property (IP) services in Canada and educates Canadians on how to use IP more effectively. My predominant role as a legal intern was to provide supporting research for internal policy initiatives; and the projects I worked justifiably spanned across the many different services and tools that CIPO offers to Canadians. Some of my more notable research projects included providing supporting research with regard to incorporation by reference drafting tools, how to meet the terms of the newly ratified CUSMA, and reconciliation initiatives as regards Canada’s relationship with First Nations.

With regard to my CUSMA research, since the ratification of the new NAFTA (CUSMA), s. 20.44(3) requires that member Parties provide the means to adjust (extend) the term of the patent for patent applications that have been subject to “unreasonable delays” in the issuance of a patent. Subsection (4) describes “unreasonable delays” as “a delay…of more than five years from the date of filing… or three years after a request for examination…”. Mexico and the US have already fulfilled their obligations. Canada does not contain a term adjustment for delays in its existing patent regime, and no such provision is included in the Implementation Act. Under Article 20.90 of CUSMA, Canada will have four and a half years from July 1, 2020, to implement this change.

Overall, my Zoom-semester at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office was one that I will never forget. I had the opportunity to learn from top policy experts responsible for making decisions that shape the future of Canadians. The research I engaged in was not only enlightening, but inspiring, knowing that it will be supporting the decisions of individuals with such responsibility to our Country. I met some amazing people with the most brilliant minds. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to see them face to face (though, our social zoom calls were some of my favourite moments of learning; one could argue, the most important).

The IP Intensive is program like no other. For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that provided an avenue for myself to bridge the gap between my interests in law and my professional career. It provided an opportunity to gain experience applying the intellectual property doctrine we were taught in school to real world problems. Through this, I acquired new perspectives on how to think about the law and gained invaluable mentorship to smooth out the rough edges before I enter the work force. I highly recommend this program to any student interested in IP Law.

Written by Joseph Simile, JD Candidate 2021, enrolled in Professors D’Agostino and Vaver 2020/2021 IP & Technology Law Intensive Program at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the course requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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