Concerns About a Patent or Trademark Agent

CPATA’s mandate and approach

CPATA’s core mandate is to ensure the public receives quality patent and trademark services from  licensed agents. Agents must meet standards for professional competence and ethics and abide by the Code of Professional Conduct. Failing to do so can have repercussions, including and suspension or restrictions on agents’ licenses to practice.

The CPATA Act, Regulations, By-laws, Code of Professional Conduct and Registrar’s Policies establish the foundation for handling complaints and concerns about the conduct of licensees in a transparent, fair, principled, proportionate and risk-focused manner. Where possible, we seek to repair rather than increase harm, to educate, and to find solutions.

Questions or concerns about an agent? Fill out our Agent Conduct Inquiry/Complaint Form

By filling in our Agent Conduct Inquiry/Complaint Form you can: 

  • ask a question about an agent’s obligations generally  
  • raise concerns about a specific agent and explore possible resolution options 
  • file a formal complaint against an agent, which will be referred to our Investigations Committee 

For more information on early resolution, read CPATA’s Policy on Early Resolution of Agent Conduct Inquiries. 

What to expect if you choose to file a formal complaint

Every complaint is referred to the Investigations Committee for direction, investigation and decision. The Committee may appoint an investigator to assist with the investigation who may:

  • communicate by e-mail or arrange a call with you or the agent to get more information
  • obtain file materials and records from the agent by consent
  • obtain a Warrant or Order for release of file materials and other information
  • conduct interviews with the agent, you and/or third parties

Once an investigation is complete, the Investigator will provide a report to the Investigations Committee. The Committee will either dismiss a complaint on the basis of such things as a lack of jurisdiction or a lack of evidence that an agent has engaged in professional misconduct or been incompetent, or, if there is evidence of professional misconduct or incompetence,  refer the complaint to the Discipline Committee for a hearing. The Committee will provide a written decision with reasons to help you and the agent understand the basis for their decision. 

The complaints process is confidential, and by filing a complaint, you are not waiving agent-client or lawyer-client privilege.

What happens when a complaint is referred to hearing?

If the Investigations Committee decides there is evidence of professional misconduct or incompetence by an agent, it will refer the matter to the Discipline Committee. Hearings are open to the public, usually conducted virtually, and all written decisions are published. 

At a hearing, the parties are the Investigations Committee and the licensee. Complainants are often called to testify as witnesses. Each party is usually represented by counsel. Decisions will usually be made by a panel of three members of the Discipline Committee based on the evidence presented.  Sometimes the parties will present a proposed Settlement Agreement for approval.

The Discipline Committee may dismiss some or all of the complaint against the licensee, or they may suspend or place conditions or restrictions on a licensee’s practice for a period of time.  They may require a licensee to complete courses or a health assessment.  They may also require the licensee to pay a fine or the costs of the hearing. Finally, they may revoke an agent’s license to practice.

Questions about the inquiry or complaints process?

For all details regarding how we handle conduct inquiries and complaints, you can consult our Agent Conduct Inquiry and Complaints Process. If you have questions about the process, you can e-mail CPATA’s Manager of Professional Responsibility, who oversees the receipt, review and investigation of concerns and complaints about licensee conduct brought to the attention of  CPATA: resp@cpata-cabamc.ca