The CPATA Act (s 36) and By-laws (s. 77) authorize the Registrar to approve the surrender of a license on application by a licensee made in accordance with the By-laws. A licensee may opt to surrender their license for various reasons, and this Guide informs licensees about the application process and ethical obligations that need to be met in order for the application to be considered and approved. If a licensee is surrendering their license from Class 2, 3 or 4, some of the information set out below may not be required.
CPATA By-laws – Application to Surrender
77(1) A licensee who wishes to surrender their license under s. 36 of the Act must submit an application to the Registrar that contains the following information:
- their current and, if available, future contact information;
- the reason for the surrender of the license;
- their complete professional employment history;
- confirmation of the following:
- that they have completed all client matters or made arrangements to the satisfaction of their clients to have the clients’ files returned to them or transferred to one or more licensees whose class of license permits them to proceed with the file or files being transferred,
- that they have assigned to one or more licensees described in subparagraph (i) any matters in progress at CIPO and have advised the appropriate Office of CIPO in writing of the name of the successor licensee or licensees, and
- the location of any of their files that are not returned to the clients or transferred as described in subparagraph (ii); and
- the applicable fee set out in items 18 and 19 of Schedule 1 together with any outstanding fees owed by the licensee, payable to the College.
Verification of Information
(2) The Registrar may seek independent verification from a successor licensee of the information provided by a licensee under subparagraph (1)(d)(ii).
Surrender – approval and effective date
78 The Registrar may approve the surrender of a license and set the effective date of the surrender if the Registrar is satisfied that the application to surrender the license is complete and that the licensee is not the subject of
- an investigation under section 37 of the Act; or
- an application by the Investigations Committee under subsection 49(1) of the Act.
79 A license is deemed to have been surrendered on the appointment of the licensee to the judiciary or on the death of the licensee.
Ethical and Practical Responsibilities
The CPATA Code of Professional Conduct for Patent Agents and Trademark Agents sets out certain requirements when licensees decide to withdraw from client matters and wind up their practice. These duties include to:
- protect and preserve client property, including any account balances, and return any funds being held for unearned fees or disbursements;
- maintain client confidentiality and agent-client privilege on an ongoing basis;
- notify all clients of the license surrender, and discuss with them their options for retaining a new agent, as well as what steps they need to take to protect their interests;
- facilitate transfer of client files to a new agent, if applicable;
- update all marketing and advertisements, phone answering services, websites and social media platforms to reflect the decision to stop practising as an agent; and
- be careful not to inadvertently engage in unauthorized practice following surrender of the license.
It is the duty of the Registrar to ensure that these matters have been addressed prior to approving an application for surrender. If a licensee wishes to surrender their license but is currently the subject of a complaint investigation or Application (referral to the Discipline Committee), the Registrar may not approve the application until these outstanding matters have been resolved or adjudicated.
Once a Class 1 license is surrendered, if applicable, the licensee’s ability to serve as a Supervisor to a Class 3 Licensee in Training will be revoked by the Registrar (By-law 65(c) ). When possible, a Supervising licensee should proactively assist a Class 3 Licensee in Training in securing alternative arrangements for a new Supervisor.
It is important to remember that clients have the right to choose whether to follow any recommendation of the licensee about a successor agent, or to take their business elsewhere. This applies even if the agent’s practice has been purchased by another agent or IP Firm (see the Code Rule 6 and Commentary).
The Code also provides that when an agent withdraws from representation, “the relevant CIPO office, opposing parties, foreign agents and any others directly affected by the withdrawal must also be notified of the withdrawal”.
When a licensee has had their date of departure from practice confirmed, the notice sent to clients in accordance with the Commentary to Rule 6 should indicate that they must appoint a successor agent. Wording should be included to specify that, if the client does not respond, the licensee will consider the matter closed, will revoke their appointment of agent by a certain date, and it will be up to the client to ensure that CIPO has current contact information for them in order to avoid any loss of rights. For more information, refer to the May 2023 Ethics Article on Rule 6 – Withdrawal of services.