Author: Mark Vanderveken

Mark Vanderveken

About Mark Vanderveken

Mark Vanderveken advises clients on regulatory compliance and intellectual property matters, with a particular focus on the life sciences industry.

IP Strategies for the Cannabis Industry

How the Canadian cannabis industry has sparked interest in one of the lesser known IP rights

Introduction

Intellectual Property (“IP”) typically provides a significant commercial advantage in the marketplace.  With the legalization of cannabis in Canada in 2018 and increasing competition among cannabis producers, the cannabis industry has been exploring ways to protect its cash crop.  Given that proprietary varieties of cannabis plants are highly valued in the cannabis industry, a lesser known and very specific type of IP right called Plant Breeders’ Rights (“PBR”) may see a rise in prominence.  Cannabis producers would be well advised to consider how PBR can be used to protect their commercially valuable proprietary varieties and supplement their existing IP arsenal.

PBR Eligibility and Scope of Protection

The federal Plant Breeders’ Rights Act enables the protection of a plant variety where that variety is:

  1. new, in that its propagating or harvested material has not been sold by or with the concurrence of the breeder inside or outside Canada within a prescribed time period (either one, four, or six years) before the filing date of the application;
  2. by reason of its identifiable characteristics, it is clearly distinguishable from all varieties whose existence is a matter of common knowledge at the filing date of the application;
  3. stable in its essential characteristics, in that after repeated propagation it remains true to its description; and
  4. having regard to the particular features of its sexual reproduction or vegetative propagation, it is sufficiently homogeneous (i.e. in the event of sexual reproduction or vegetative propagation in substantial quantities, any variations in characteristics are predictable, capable of being described, and commercially acceptable).
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2019 was “Marked” by Significant Changes to Canada’s Trademarks Legislation

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After much anticipation, Canada’s new Trademarks Act (the “Act”), came into force on June 17, 2019. The Act introduced significant changes to Canadian trademarks laws which, together with the associated Trademarks Regulations, align Canada’s trademark prosecution and enforcement processes with those of the United States and the European Union, and facilitate Canada’s implementation of international intellectual property treaties.

Some of the key changes under the new Act are outlined below:

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