What are the implications of the Canada - European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) for IP?

The Canada – European Union Trade Agreement (CETA, from Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) aims to facilitate and reduce barriers to trade, as 98% of the trade tariffs will be removed. The deal was recently ratified by the European Parliament. CETA has several Intellectual Property (IP) related provisions which might affect companies that wish to provide goods across borders and protect their IP assets.

First and foremost, Canada will have to make reasonable efforts to join several IP related treaties, such as the international trademark (Madrid) and industrial design (Hague) systems. Canada will have to continue to enact legislative changes to its IP Laws so that it comes closer to meet the necessary requirements to standardize its laws with those of the international community.

When Canada joins these international systems, applicants and companies will be able to extend protection of their local IP rights (trademarks and designs) with much great ease and reduced costs with a more streamlined process. For example, Canada only started to implement the international Nice Agreement for the classification of marks recently. However, for the time being, applicants will still have to file local applications, either national (Canada or EU member states) or regional (EU wide protection).

Second, Geographical Indications (IGs) will be cross recognized between both countries. This is especially important for Europe as it is the world’s largest applicant of these IP rights that protect certain names that are tied to a specific geographical origin (Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese or Parma Ham). Producers of these agricultural products will avoid some headaches, such as the Prosciutto di Parma producers, due to a registered Canadian trademark that was blocking them from selling their goods with the Parma name.

Third, CETA has provisions concerning pharmaceutical patents, which will provide a sui generis protection, granting the patent for an additional two more years. The agreement will also facilitate the entrance in the Canadian market of generics. Besides the Patent Law Treaty, both countries are already part of the same international treaties and patent provisions in CETA are not substantial.

The Agreement also provides common rules for Copyright, criminally preventing a practice known as “camcording” in movie theaters, common rules for the enforcement of IP Rights and common border measures to stop counterfeiting.

The deal still requires approval by all EU member states’ parliaments in order to be effective.

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