holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in biomedical engineering. He is a partner at Tessier et Associés and is associated with Prévost Fortin D’Aoust. His client base includes mainly individual inventors and small and medium sized businesses, with an emphasis in the biomedical, drilling and optics industries. He can be reached via Email.
Another unnecessary limit that US applicants almost always impose on themselves is in the number of claims. In Canada, there are no extra claim fees. As we all know, more claims are most of the times a good thing. In many cases, adding claims would require additional drafting and the applicant may not be willing to spend more on claim drafting. However, there are a few cases in which additional drafting efforts are small and for which adding existing claims to the Canadian patent application would be cost effective.
Even with its relatively small population, Canada is the largest export market for the US, with about 200 billion dollars worth of exports each year. Exporting to Canada from the US is a well-known process, and an inventor or company wishing to do so will have no difficulty in finding a company that can handle all the required paperwork and logistics. Even if one does not wish to export to Canada, licensing or sale of a patent is always a possibility. I have many clients whose business model revolves around finding products that sell well in the US and which are likely to sell well in Canada, having these products manufactured in China, and selling them in Canada. I often get asked to confirm that one of these products is not protected by a patent in Canada. If there is no Canadian patent, my clients are able to profit from the US inventor’s ingenuity.
Chinese patents and patent applications are citable as prior art in most Western countries if they meet the usual criteria regarding publication dates of the cited patent and filing or priority dates of the examined patent. They always have been. However, recent developments have made them more problematic for Western country applicants, especially for independent inventors and small businesses… While in the past an inventor may have decided that it was not worth getting a patent, and many inventions have been forgotten in this manner, there is a large number of people in China who are now encouraged to file patents applications and utility model applications even for the simplest of invention. What we can do as patent agents and attorneys, is to start searching for Chinese documents when doing prior art searches. This may result in bad news for inventors who receive negative patentability reports, but at least they will not spend a lot of money only to have their patent application rejected later.
A few years ago, a clearly irritated client asked me why European maintenance fees were so expensive. Apparently, he had consulted the EPO schedule of fees and found my recent quote to be much higher than the government fee. The final quote in this case was more than double the government fee, which itself is not a small amount as any practitioner who prosecutes European patent applications knows. I had not realized that the annuity payment firm I was using had slowly increased its rates over the years to an unreasonable level. This started a reflection on how to minimize costs to my clients while still ensuring that the maintenance fees were paid.