A Semester at CIPO - My IP Intensive Experience

A Semester at CIPO - My IP Intensive Experience

Sarah Raja is an IP Intensive student and a 3L JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. As part of the course requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

This semester, I had the opportunity to participate in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property (IP) and Technology Law Intensive Program. The program involves a 10-week placement as a legal intern to gain real-world experience in IP law. I had the opportunity to be placed at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). CIPO is a special operating agency of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and is responsible for the administration of intellectual property in Canada.

As a student, I worked with the Policy, International Affairs, and Research Office (PIRO), which is part of the Corporate Strategies and Services Branch (CSS) at CIPO. PIRO provides advice and guidance on policy, regulatory, international, and economic issues to CIPO’s Executive Office and the Deputy Minister and Minister of ISED. PIRO is divided into three teams: Policy and Regulatory Affairs Office (PRAO), International Relations Office (IRO) and the Economic Research and Strategic Analysis Unit. If you didn’t already notice – yes, the federal government has an affinity for acronyms; I learned this on day one of my placement!

My main role was to conduct research to support the PIRO team. I researched intellectual property trends in free trade agreements and identified areas where negotiations are focused. While my main focus was on trade agreements which Canada is party to – including Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – I also learned about the negotiations and IP standards set in other regions of the world by other agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the recent African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

My research was also related to meetings that I attended throughout the semester, where I was not only exposed to various areas in international intellectual property law but also to issues the Canadian government is facing regarding implementation of recent trade agreements. For example, I had the opportunity to learn about the process CIPO is taking to implement patent term adjustment obligations as required under Article 20.90 of the CUSMA. It was fascinating to sit-in on discussions of the most current issues that the office is facing as well as being introduced to topics that would never be discussed in the classroom.

I further had the opportunity to attend various meetings on behalf of CIPO’s PIRO team. This includes those held by the Intellectual Property Centre of Expertise (IPCE), an organization established as part of Canada’s national IP strategy in order to provide IP advice and educational support across the federal government. Discussions included considerations that need to be taken when conducting research and the role of federal servants in federal research as dictated by the Public Servants Inventions Act (PSIA). Not
only was this an opportunity to learn about a career of IP in the public sector, but I was also given hands-on experience on how to create effective memoranda when communicating information to the chief executive officer – something that is done regularly as a CIPO analyst.

Working as a student at CIPO has been an incomparable experience. Not only was the work unique, but it was a great skill-building challenge to work independently in areas where I am inexperienced – especially in the remote environment. I want to thank my supervisors, Shawn Tippins and Zorn Pink, who provided me with numerous opportunities to engage with the department. In addition to what I learned from the work, I have gained valuable mentors and lasting relationships. Although I wasn’t able to meet them in person, the team provided a warm and welcoming environment where I felt comfortable asking questions and participating in discussions. I look forward to applying the skills I’ve learned into my career and hope future students will take advantage of this opportunity as well.