The top 20 IP law firms in Canada (measured and ranked by filing volume) represented more than 69% of patent and trademark filings between 2018 and 2022. The rankings of the top 10 – GOWLING WLG, SMART & BIGGAR, BERESKIN AND PARR, ROBIC, BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP, RIDOUT & MAYBEE LLP, NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT, MARKS & CLERK, FASKEN MARTINEAU DUMOULIN LLP and LAVERY, DE BILLY, LLP – had little change to their rankings during this period, signaling the strong foothold of these large firms in the Canadian IP industry.
However, an up and rising new technology-based entrant – WITMARK INC – has climbed up the ranks quickly, from 50th position in 2018 to 7th position in 2022, despite purely focused on trademark applications.
Evaluating Patent vs Trademark Prosecution Trends in Canada
When inspecting solely on patent publications and trademark publications, the rankings of the firms then differed slightly. This could be in part because of a bigger focus (>70%) in patent prosecution for some firms like NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT and PERRY + CURRIER (PCKIP) as compared to the likes of FASKEN MARTINEAU DUMOULIN LLP, OSLER, HOSKIN & HARCOURT LLP and MILTONS IP focusing more on trademarks prosecution. The patent prosecution share and ranking for 2022, however, may still change since there will be patent filings additionally published in the upcoming months.
Client and Partner Analysis of Canadian IP Law Firms
Collectively, the top 20 firms handled more foreign filings i.e. first filings which were done outside of Canada than domestic filings i.e. filings which were done in Canada between 2018 and 2022. This is indicative of how important international prosecution work is for the largest IP law firms in Canada. In fact, foreign filings occupied over 75% of the 5 largest law firms’ IP prosecution portfolios.
This was because most of the applicants filing in Canada came from foreign origins, with the most coming from the United States, Switzerland, S. Korea, Germany and Great Britain. Some of the largest filers between 2018 and 2022 included American PROCTER & GAMBLE, JOHNSON & JOHNSON and DELTA FAUCET CO, Chinese HUAWEI TECH CO LTD and French L’OREAL.
Consequently, most of the top international law firms sending cases to Canadian law firms were primarily from these countries. An overwhelming 86% of the top 50 sending law firms were from the United States but this was not entirely surprising given the close proximity and importance of the two IP jurisdictions.