Canada: La Divulgation Publique d'une Invention et la Période de Grâce Canadienne

Last Updated: November 15 2013
Article by Sanro Zlobec

Des changements apportés à la loi américaine par l'America Invents Act (AIA) jettent une certaine lumière sur des problèmes liés à la divulgation publique d'une invention pour le demandeur de brevet souhaitant faire un dépôt au Canada. Bien que le Canada permette de déposer une demande de brevet dans un délai d'un an suivant la date de la première divulgation publique, les conséquences découlant d'une telle divulgation publique peuvent maintenant être d'une toute autre nature comparativement à la situation américaine. Les demandeurs de brevets souhaitant obtenir des brevets au Canada devraient donc savoir que certains gestes peuvent être plus dommageables à leurs droits canadiens que ce à quoi ils pourraient s'attendre. Heureusement, certaines précautions permettent de minimiser l'impact de cette situation.

Les personnes qui demandent un brevet dans des pays européens ou asiatiques n'oseraient habituellement pas divulguer une invention avant d'avoir déposé une demande de brevet puisque ce geste pourrait compromettre leurs droits. Même une simple divulgation involontaire peut entrainer la perte irréparable des droits dans plusieurs juridictions. Le Canada fait cependant partie d'un groupe de pays où les règles à cet égard sont plus permissives. Ainsi, si une divulgation publique d'une invention se produit, qu'elle soit intentionnelle ou involontaire, il peut encore être possible d'obtenir des droits de brevet au Canada et dans d'autres régions économiquement importantes du monde.

Récemment, des changements qui ont eu lieu en droit américain des brevets en vertu de l'AIA ont passablement changé le régime des brevets, y compris les dispositions ayant trait à la divulgation publique avant le dépôt. Bien que les conséquences de certains changements puissent demeurer nébuleuses pour l'instant, il semble qu'en vertu de certaines de ces nouvelles dispositions, une divulgation par le demandeur lui-même pourrait, dans certaines circonstances, agir comme un « bouclier » contre les divulgations faites par une tierce partie intervenante, si une demande de brevet est déposée quelque part dans le monde dans un délai d'un an à compter de la divulgation originale.

La situation est toutefois bien différente au Canada, où un demandeur qui a fait une divulgation de son invention doit non seulement être le premier à avoir déposé une demande de brevet, mais doit aussi s'assurer que la demande de brevet canadienne est déposée à l'intérieur d'un délai d'un an à compter de la première divulgation.

Plus particulièrement, les requérants qui rendent leurs inventions accessibles au public quelque part dans le monde disposent d'un délai d'un an pour obtenir une date de dépôt canadienne. Celle-ci peut être obtenue au moyen du dépôt d'une demande de brevet canadienne ou d'une demande internationale (PCT) auprès d'un office récepteur. Les divulgations de l'invention faites par un tiers qui précèdent la date de dépôt canadienne (ou la date de priorité, le cas échéant) porteraient cependant un coup fatal à la demande canadienne. En effet, à moins que ce soit d'un « tiers ayant obtenu de lui l'information à cet égard de façon directe ou autrement », une divulgation publique qui a lieu avant la date de dépôt canadienne (ou la date de priorité, le cas échéant) peut être valablement citée contre la demande canadienne, même si cette divulgation a lieu après une divulgation antérieure faite par le demandeur.

En somme, pour qui souhaite obtenir un brevet canadien valable, la divulgation publique d'une invention avant le dépôt de la demande de brevet canadienne est rarement une bonne idée et, au mieux, une intervention rapide pourrait neutraliser la difficulté. Plus précisément, afin de sauvegarder les droits de brevet au Canada dans un cas où l'invention est divulguée au public n'importe où dans le monde, une demande prioritaire devrait être déposée dès que possible. Si cette demande prioritaire n'est pas canadienne et n'est pas non plus une demande internationale (PCT), il faut déposer une demande canadienne dans un délai d'un an à compter de la divulgation publique. Contrairement à la règle applicable ailleurs, pour le Canada il ne suffit pas de déposer une demande prioritaire pour contourner l'obstacle de la divulgation.

Donc, en pratique, les demandeurs de brevets qui souhaitent déposer une demande au Canada et qui doivent composer avec une divulgation publique devraient rapidement déposer une demande prioritaire une fois l'invention divulguée et s'assurer que la demande canadienne (ou internationale) est déposée dans les 12 mois à compter de la divulgation pour protéger leurs droits de brevet canadiens.

Cet article se veut une mise à jour sur le droit canadien de la propriété intellectuelle et de la technologie. Le contenu de cet article est à titre informatif seulement et ne comporte aucun conseil d'ordre juridique ou professionnel. Pour obtenir de tels conseils, veuillez communiquer directement avec l'un ou l'autre de nos bureaux.

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