Security Rights in Intellectual Property in Canada: Common Law

  • Robert G. HowellEmail author
Part of the Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law book series (GSCL, volume 45)


Nine provinces and three territories are common law jurisdictions in Canada. The province of Quebec is a civil law jurisdiction. This paper considers the scope of rights under Personal Property Security Acts (PPSA) over Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) from a common law jurisdictional perspective, focusing on the PPSA provisions of two common law provinces, British Columbia and Ontario. PPSA legislative measures are not uniform in detail across all Canadian common law jurisdictions, but there is similarity in principle and concept.

PPSA legislation is a provincial legislative constitutional power. This is in contrast with the predominantly federal legislative constitutional source of IPRs in a context where some federal IPR legislation addresses ownership and priorities upon assignment or, where applicable, licensing of the IPR. The result is a bifurcation of federal and provincial measures in Security Interests over IPRs involving assignment and, sometimes, licensing. However, as both federal and provincial legislative measures can co-exist and can both be complied with, there is likely no application of principles of constitutional paramountcy.

There are, however, issues of court jurisdiction between federal and provincial courts. While the Supreme Court of Canada and the provincial Superior Courts (Trial and Appellate) can determine all matters concerning IPRs and Security Interests under PPSA, the Federal Court is the more usual choice for IPR litigation, especially involving patent, industrial design, registered trademark, plant breeder rights and integrated circuit topographies under the relevant IPR legislation. Yet the Federal Court has no direct jurisdiction over provincial PPSA. However, PPSA issues may be seen as incidental to the substantive IPR issues and thereby give jurisdiction indirectly. This is sensible but the scope of this approach awaits appellate analysis and may be limited. Yet, should a determination require enforcement beyond an in personam order, only the Federal Court has jurisdiction to directly vary or rectify a federal IPR registry.

All of these matters are considered in this paper together with a discussion of key IPR and PPSA elements, including valuation methodology and priorities between parties and the position of a Trustee in Bankruptcy. Law reform possibilities are included.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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