No products in the cart.

How to file a patent 

How to file a patent 

Published by Programme B


Have a tangible invention, process, or improvement and want to protect your invention and investments? You’re probably thinking about getting a patent. This is an important step for the future of your business! You’ll want to work with a registered patent agent and learn more about the subject.  

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has prepared a short guide to patents that explains what they are and how to get them.  

Since applying for a patent is complicated, we urge you to have a registered patent agent file your application and follow up on it while it’s being processed. Protecting your invention is in your best interest!

Patent FAQ

What is a patent? 

A patent is issued by the Patent Office at CIPO, the federal agency that administers patents, trademarks, and copyrights in Canada. It grants inventors the exclusive right to produce, sell, or use their inventions, which helps protect them from infringement. Inventors with a patent have the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling their inventions without permission.  

In exchange, inventors must provide CIPO with a detailed description of their inventions that all Canadians—even their competitors—can consult. A patent application is made public 18 months after the filing date. This is important to consider before starting the patent application process. 

What is the purpose of a patent? 

According to CIPO, patents drive technological progress and are a cornerstone of Canada’s economic strength. Patents allow Canadian inventors to profit financially from their creativity by giving them a monopoly on their creations for a specific time period. 

In addition to making money and encouraging creativity, patents are also a way to share cutting-edge information that’s useful to researchers, companies, and the general public so they can keep up with innovations in their fields. 

What can you patent? 

You can file a patent application for an invention. The Patent Act defines an invention as “any new and useful art, process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement in any art, process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.”  

On the flip side, Chapter 17.03 of the Manual of Patent Office Practice (MOPOP) gives examples of what you cannot patent:

  • A disembodied idea, concept, or discovery
  • Scientific principles and abstract theorems
  • Methods of medical treatment or surgery
  • Higher life forms
  • Forms of energy
  • Features of solely intellectual or aesthetic significance
  • Printed matter

How long does a patent last? 

In Canada, a patent lasts 20 years from the date the application is filed. 

Can a patent be challenged?  

Once a patent application is made public, anyone can challenge the patentability of the invention or the inventor’s claims. To do so, the person wishing to challenge the patent must file prior art, with information that may lead the examiner to object to one or more of the inventor’s claims.  

When should you file a patent application? 

In Canada, the first person to file a patent application for an invention is the one who will be granted the patent. CIPO can take up to two years to assess an application, so you should act quickly after creating an invention. However, it’s best to perfect the invention before filing an application, to avoid exposing information and having to file a second application later when it’s ready. To avoid having to reapply, work with a registered patent agent right from the start!

How to file a patent application: Main steps 

To make the filing process easier, you should work with a patent agent who has received the necessary training recognized by the College of Patent Agents and Trademark Agents. Also be aware that general information is available on the CIPO website.

Here are the main steps for filing a patent application in Canada:

  1. Preliminary patent search

First see if your invention or a similar one has already been patented. To do this, you can search CIPO’s Canadian Patent Database using keywords, the inventor’s name, and more. This database is free to use. CIPO’s Client Service Centre can also assist you with further research if required. 

  1. Preparing and filing a patent application

A patent application must include an abstract, a specification and, in most cases, drawings. The abstract is a brief summary of the contents of the specification. The specification must contain a clear and complete description of the invention and its usefulness as well as claims that delineate the protection your patent will give you. 

Your patent agent will play a major role in this step by ensuring your application is written in a way that provides the protection you need.

  1. Publication of the patent application

Once the necessary information, documents, and fees have been submitted to CIPO, it will assign a number and filing date to your application, which will be published 18 months after that date.

  1. Examination of the application

Your application will not be examined automatically after it is submitted. You must formally request examination within four years of the filing date and pay the examination fee. Why such a long time? You may want to do more research on the feasibility of your invention. 

  1. Examiner’s evaluation and decision

Once you request examination of your application, an examiner will search for prior art and review your claims. The examiner may approve or object to your application. It’s not uncommon for an examiner to object to a claim. With the help of your patent agent, you can respond to objections by the deadline specified in their report. The examiner can then re-evaluate your application, object to it again, or approve it.  

  1. Payment of the final fee

If your patent application is accepted, you will be required to pay the final fee within four months of the date the payment notice is sent. Otherwise, your patent application will be deemed abandoned. 

  1. Downloading your patent 

Your patent is an electronic PDF document provided by the Patent Office. It is sealed with a digital signature that makes it official. You will receive a letter from CIPO by email with a unique code that will allow you to download your patent.  

  1. Maintaining your patent

To maintain the validity of your patent, you may need to take a few steps, such as paying a maintenance fee.  

Business insurance protects you too 

While patents protect your inventions, business insurance is there to cover your company’s assets and unintentional property damage or personal injury to others.  

Join thousands of entrepreneurs in Québec and insure your business with us. After a thorough risk assessment, we will provide a fairly priced business insurance policy specially tailored to your situation. Request a quote or contact one of our damage insurance representatives today!