2023 was an important year for CPATA, with the College continuing its regulatory build-out, tackling key priorities and taking the necessary steps to become a sustainable regulator for the long-term.
CPATA focused on professional competency and qualifying examinations to support a strong, expert profession.
For many years, the way to become a patent agent or a trademark agent remained unchanged. Likewise, there was no clearly-defined overview of what knowledge and skills patent agents and trademark agents need to have to serve their clients effectively. We developed and adopted Technical Competency Profiles for patent agents and trademark agents. Then we began to review and redevelop the qualifying examinations. For this work, CPATA relied heavily on the input of the profession through working groups and surveys. The new exams, starting in 2024, will evaluate candidate knowledge and skills as outlined in the technical competency profiles.
CPATA’s proactive approach to professional responsibility assisted licensees and protected the public.
CPATA’s takes a proactive, principled and proportionate approach to professional responsibility. We welcome inquiries from the profession about ethical practice issues. In 2023, we responded to 30 ethics inquiries from licensees seeking clarification about their professional responsibilities and published 12 ethical analyses that were viewed 1,141 times We also addressed 12 conduct inquiries which were all resolved through early resolution. Two new complaints were referred to the Discipline Committee (in addition to two complaints that were carried over from the previous year). CPATA held its first discipline hearing in December and achieved positive resolutions to its first instances of allegations of unauthorized practice. Through these various mechanisms, CPATA meets its key mandate of protecting Canada’s innovators and creators through the regulation of patent agents and trademark agents.
CPATA continued to build towards long-term, effective and sustainable regulation.
CPATA released its 2023-2025 Strategic Framework, establishing our priorities for the next phase in the transition from start-up. This Strategic Framework is an essential roadmap that outlines the path that we will take to contribute to the IP ecosystem through professional regulation. CPATA amended its By-Laws in 2023. CPATA introduced a new class of license (Class 4) for inactive licensees and made changes to the Class 2 license. Licence fees were adjusted to financially sustain long-term regulation.
Looking Forward to 2024
CPATA’s focus in 2024 will continue to be on professional competency and entry-to-practice. CPATA continues to work towards strengthening the competencies of patent agents and trademark agents, and building confidence in accessible, ethical and expert intellectual property services in Canada.
CPATA will administer the new qualifying examinations for the first time in 2024. This would not be possible without the over 70 patent agents and trademark agents who will serve on various working groups for the exam redevelopment and administration. As a complement to the Technical Competency Profiles developed in 2023, we will develop a Professional Foundations Profile that outlines the professional skills (such as communication and file management) that must complement a licensee’s technical knowledge.
CPATA will also begin undertaking an analysis of the current pathway to become an agent: completing a 24-month training period and passing the qualifying examinations. We will be exploring the strengths and challenges within the current framework to see if improvements could be made to the system for potential licensees and their supervisors, and to consider whether additional pathways to licensure might benefit Canada.
Finally, CPATA will continue building our regulatory infrastructure including populating various roles on our committees and holding an election for two positions on the CPATA Board of Directors.
We look forward to working with our licensees and other stakeholders on these exciting and important projects in 2024.