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The Patent Process

The first thing to do, in pursuing a patent for an invention, is to search for other patents of the same kind. If an invention similar to yours has already been patented, you will not be able to patent your own.

Preliminary searching can be done through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office's (CIPO) post-1920 Canadian Patent Database ( and the Made in Canada 1869 to 1894 patent database. More detailed searching must be done at the Patent Office, in Gatineau, Quebec.

Once you have determined that your invention is the first of its kind, you can prepare your application (described below). The application must be complete, or your materials will be returned to you, and no filing date assigned.

It is strongly recommended that you hire the services and expertise of a patent agent if you want to patent your invention. A list of Canadian patent agents is found on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (
) website.

A patent agent will ensure that the language for your application is written in a certain format. This will make clear to the patent examiner and to others what your invention is and the claims you place on it. CIPO can help you to contact a patent agent.


To obtain a Canadian patent, submit an application with the appropriate fee to CIPO.

Once accepted for filing, your application will be assigned a number and filing date. This is no guarantee of a patent. It simply means your application is pending. The application will be laid open for public inspection 18 months after the filing date.

Once you have filed your application, you have five years in which to request examination. You can request it right away, or you can use this time to assess the marketability of your invention before you commit to the rest of the patent process. Depending on how busy the Patent Office is, your examination may take two or three years.

The patent examiner will assess whether your patent application is in the proper format and compare it to other related patents. If the examiner finds that some of your claims are improper, he or she will issue an objection. During the examination period, other people can also file objections to your patent. You will then have a chance to respond to objections by requesting amendments to your claim. The examiner will review the amendments, and either grant your patent or request further amendments.

The Structure of a Patent

The form of a patent has not changed too much over time. Basic information is required to identify the inventor or assignee and the patent connected to the invention. However, as the patent process evolves, more care and awareness of the complexities needed to protect your claim is needed.

Patents are divided into five basic areas: petition, abstract, description, claims and drawings, in that order.

Petition: The petition is your formal request for a patent. It states your name and address, the title of the patent, and information about priority, patent agents and representatives.

Abstract: The abstract is a short summary (150 words or less) of your invention. Abstracts are used primarily for searching patents.

Description: The description starts with an overview of the invention and then gives more detail. It is important to be thorough; you cannot add new information to your patent application once it is filed.

Claims: Claims are the legal bases for your patent protection. Careful wording helps define the limits of your patent rights. Consider the scope, structure and characteristics of the invention when writing the claims.

Drawings: Drawings must be included with your application if the subject matter can be illustrated. Show every feature of your invention that is defined in your claims. If your invention cannot be illustrated, but can be described using photographs, include photographs.

More detailed information on the patent process and the structure of a patent can be obtained from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office ( website.