Canadian Patent Office Puts Prosecution Histories Online

On June 15, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) opened the prosecution histories of Canadian patents and Canadian published patent applications for public access via the world wide web. The totality of such written correspondence for a particular patent application or patent is referred to as its “patent prosecution history.”

In patent parlance, the term “prosecution” refers to the process of guiding a patent application through the patent office to issuance as a patent. Patent prosecution primarily consists of written correspondence between the patent office and a patent applicant (e.g. an inventor or company, typically represented by a patent agent or patent lawyer).

The patent office issues “examiner’s reports” or “office actions,” each providing a written assessment of the patentability of the invention that is the subject of a patent application. The patent applicant must respond to each examiner’s report in writing, either with an explanation as to why the patent application should be allowed in its current form or with amendments to the patent application for addressing any objections raised by the patent office.

Canadian prosecution histories were previously available only through mechanisms that were not web-based and typically required payment of a fee to a searcher. By making its patent prosecution histories available online cost-free, the CIPO joins the ranks of other patent offices, such as those of the United States and Europe, which have provided such access for some time.

The CIPO’s announcement regarding this development is available here.