IP Intensive: Ottawa - The Best of Both Worlds

IP Intensive: Ottawa - The Best of Both Worlds

Living and working in Ottawa is a unique, and often dual, experience. Every morning as I head to work at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), I cross the border from Ontario into Quebec. Conversations often begin in English and end in French. Ottawa itself has features of a large city, but the friendly dynamics of a small town. At CIPO, I also felt like I got to experience the best of both worlds: engaging with substantive IP law and thought-provoking policy work.

To engage with substantive law, I participated in rotations in the Trademarks and Opposition Board (TMOB), the Patent Appeal Board, the Trademarks Branch, and the Patent Branch. While at the TMOB, I worked with a Hearing Officer at the Trademarks Opposition Board (TMOB) to draft section 45 (expungement) decisions. I enjoyed reviewing the evidence before me and discussing how the law applied to the facts at hand. Through this process, I learned a great deal about how to write concisely, and how to marshal facts to support a conclusion. At the Patent Appeal Board, I discussed the patent examination and appeal process, Patented Medicines (Notice of Compliance) [PM(NOC)] Regulations and litigation in Federal Court surrounding PM(NOC)s. I conducted a review of Supreme Court decisions and how they might change office practices at the Patent Branch and Patent Appeal Board. At each of the Trademarks Branch and at the Patent Branch, I was able to follow an Examiner as she walked me through the full lifecycle of a patent and trademark application at CIPO.

During policy rotations, I worked with the Copyright and Industrial Design (CID) Branch, the Information Branch, and the Policy, International and Research Office (PIRO). While with CID, I researched the possible policy implications of 3D printing. I was also able to observe bilateral meetings between the Canadian Copyright and Industrial Design office and its Japanese counterpart to learn about Japan’s accession to the Hague Agreement. At PIRO, I conducted research on the accessibility and availability of information on CIPO’s patent database from the perspective of a new user. I also conducted a comparative analysis of the patent databases of the intellectual property offices of the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and the United States. In a final memorandum, I provided suggestions to improve the functionality of CIPO’s database. These suggestions support CIPO’s goal of increasing the transparency of CIPO’s information offerings, maximizing opportunities for innovative research, and lowering transaction costs for innovators and small businesses.

Overall, it was a great privilege to spend my time at CIPO conducting instructive, thought-provoking, and challenging research while being surrounded by people who were genuinely friendly and passionate about their work.


Lisa Hartman is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.