ARCHIVED—An Overview of the Results from the Focus Groups of Intellectual Property Agents
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The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) recently organized a series of focus groups in most large Canadian cities to determine its clients' point of view. The aim was to help CIPO understand the vision that IP agents have of a "leading Intellectual Property Office (IPO)" and look at CIPO in this context. The goal of these meetings was also to obtain their perspective on CIPO's priorities for the next five years and understand how CIPO can better serve the community of agents.
A total of seven focus groups, approximately one hour and a half each in duration, were held from February 19 to 26, 2007. The groups, led by the Client Relationship Management team, included patent and trade-mark agents, as well as agents who file industrial designs, in Ottawa, Toronto, Montréal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Although the meetings were held in various regions of the country and focussed on three aspects of IP, the results were surprisingly similar. Here is an overview of what the agents identified as being a "leading IPO."
For IP agents, a "leading IPO" must be able to conduct high-quality examinations that are thorough, consistent, stringent and timely. The examiners must communicate effectively with the agents and be accessible.
Client service is one of the defining points identified by all the focus groups. A "leading IPO" must be accessible using several modes of communication and respond to requests effectively.
Moreover, the majority of agents indicated that a "leading IPO" must have diversified online services with the possibility of conducting several types of online transactions. The databases must be reliable, regularly updated and available at all times. As for online tools, they must also be efficient and on the leading edge of technology, while still being user-friendly. Furthermore, the users must be able to have confidence in the security of the online data.
The agents suggest being proactive and progressive on many levels to be a "leading IPO" through development of laws and harmonization of international practices. They also think that there must be more innovation, such as initiating new service lines.
How is CIPO perceived in relation to this vision? In general, the agents recognize the efforts CIPO is making to improve its online services to reduce turnaround times. They also believe that the examination of patents has been more stringent in recent years, despite the fact that they sometimes have the impression that the examiners are overloaded. As for trade-marks, the agents appreciate that the examination is competent and reliable, but see more room for improvement in terms of turnaround times. Furthermore, the agents in industrial design would like examinations with faster turnaround times that are also more transparent.
Conclusions and next steps
In hindsight, all the focus groups pointed out some common themes: high-quality examinations, client service, and electronic services and innovation/proactivity.
The information gathered has been valuable for CIPO's managers in implementing the five-year strategic plan. The details of this plan will soon be posted on the CIPO Internet site. To receive news, sign up for CIPO news updates.