Special 301 Report (Intellectual Property Rights)

Canada remains on the Watch List in 2023. Canada made significant progress in intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement with the implementation of important IP provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), particularly in areas where there have been long-standing concerns, including with full national treatment for copyright protections, transparency and due process with respect to geographical indications (GIs), and more expansive trade secret protection, including criminal penalties for willful misappropriation. In December 2022, Canada extended the general term of copyright protection for all works measured by the life of the author from life of the author plus 50 years to life of the author plus 70 years. The United States continues to monitor Canada’s outstanding USMCA commitments with transition periods, including on the Brussels Satellites Convention and patent term extensions for unreasonable patent office delays. Right holders also report that Canadian courts have established meaningful penalties against circumvention devices and services, but piracy through these means persists. In 2019, Canada made positive reforms to the Copyright Board related to tariff-setting procedures for the use of copyrighted works.

Despite this progress, various challenges to the adequate and effective protection of IP rights in Canada remain. Significant concerns regarding Canada’s IP environment include poor enforcement with respect to counterfeit or pirated goods at the border and within Canada, high levels of online piracy, and inadequate transparency and due process regarding GIs protected through free trade agreements. In particular, reports of enforcement levels suggest that Canadian authorities have yet to take full advantage of expanded ex officio powers. Canada’s system to provide for patent term restoration for delays in obtaining marketing approval is limited in duration, eligibility, and scope of protection. The United States remains deeply troubled by the ambiguous education-related exception added to the copyright law in 2012, which reportedly has significantly damaged the market for educational publishers and authors.