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 Form

If you have a question or concern about a patent agent or trademark agent, we encourage you to reach out using our Agent Conduct Inquiry Form. This process is a quick an accessible way to address questions or resolve concerns.

What happens after I submit my Agent Conduct Inquiry Form?

The Registrar may:

  • review the situation and determine whether it falls under CPATA’s jurisdiction
  • communicate by e-mail or arrange a call with you or the agent to get more information
  • facilitate a meeting or conversation between you and the agent 
  • provide guidance to the agent 
  • assist you and the agent in reaching an agreement about next steps

The overall goal of this process is to resolve your question or concernresolve your question or concern quickly and effectively. There may be certain instances where the Registrar will encourage you to file a formal complaint instead. This may happen at any time during this process, as a result of a risk assessment or because the concerns raised in the inquiry and/or through the process are such that an investigation should occur and the Investigations Committee should be notified.

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

Filing a formal complaint

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of our attempts to resolve your concerns, or alternatively as a first step, you also have the option of filing a formal complaint by filling out our Agent Complaint Form.

What to expect after you file a 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: