Special 301 Report (Intellectual Property Rights)

Canada is placed on the Watch List in 2020. The most significant step forward taken by Canada remains its agreement to important intellectual property (IP) provisions in the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA). In April, Canada ratified the USMCA and is expected to issue accompanying regulations and Ministerial Statements that further fulfill its commitments. Significant concerns of Canada’s IP environment include poor enforcement with respect to counterfeit or pirated goods at the border and within Canada, deficient copyright protection, and inadequate transparency and due process regarding geographical indications (GIs) protected through free trade agreements.

Canada’s commitments under the USMCA will substantially improve its IP environment, addressing areas where there have been longstanding concerns, including enforcement against counterfeits, inspection of goods in transit, transparency with respect to new GIs, national treatment, copyright term, 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.

Canada also made positive reforms to the Copyright Board related to tariff-setting procedures for the use of copyrighted works. Despite this progress, various challenges to adequate and effective protection of IP rights in Canada remain. Canada’s system to provide for patent term restoration for delays in obtaining marketing approval is limited in duration, eligibility, and scope of protection.

With respect to pharmaceuticals, the United States will continue to monitor the implementation and effects of recent changes to the Patented Medicines Prices Review Board’s pricing regulations. The United States urges Canada to appropriately recognize the value of innovative medicines in both the private and public markets, to ensure its decisions are made transparently, and to contribute fairly to research and development for innovative treatments and cures.

The United States remains deeply troubled by the ambiguous education-related exception added to the copyright law in 2012, which has significantly damaged the market for educational publishers and authors. While Canadian courts have worked to clarify this exception, confusion remains and the educational publishing sector reports lost revenue from licensing.