IPIC Committee Profile: Trademark Administrator Committee
IP administrators play a crucial role in the management of intellectual property on behalf of their employers, and these roles typically require a great degree of specialized knowledge and experience. Over the past several years, IPIC has been committed to supporting the ongoing education and training of assistants, paralegals and clerks involved in the administration of IP through the development and implementation of comprehensive professional certification programs. To learn more about IPIC’s work in supporting trademark administrators, we e-interviewed Karin Binder and Jennifer Dove, the current Chair and Vice-Chair (respectively) of IPIC’s Trademark Administrator Committee.
What is the committee’s mandate?
The Trademark Administrator Committee’s mandate is to develop courses for trademark assistants, paralegals and clerks leading to the professional designation of Certified Canadian Trademark Administrator (CCTA). The committee is responsible for developing the certification course materials, setting the certification exam and developing continuing education programs for the CCTAs.
What does the Trademark Administrator’s Certification program entail?
The program is a four-part online course intended to cover a comprehensive range of topics relating to the administration of trademarks in Canada (see Figure below). The program culminates with an online qualifying examination to achieve the CCTA designation.
The course is self-directed and is open to anyone who is interested in acting as a trademark administrator, from individuals with absolutely no prior exposure to trademark practice to experienced law clerks or paralegals.
The course was launched in the fall of 2018 and was created to fill a void in terms of professional designations for IP administrators, to recognize individuals who have mastered this subject matter, and to provide a consistent and comprehensive training program in trademarks administration.
The program can be completed at any time, at a candidate’s convenience. Once each of the four courses have been completed, the candidate can take the online exam, which is currently offered twice a year in April and November.
To learn more about IPIC's on demand Trademark Administrator Program please click here.
Why is certification for IP administrators so important?
Much like other professional qualifications, the certification provides an objective measure that can be relied upon to show that an CCTA has been exposed to and received training on the wide range of potential duties and responsibilities that may arise in their everyday job. In an area that is as specialized as trademark administration, it is important for both individuals and employers of all sizes to know that their administrators have a solid baseline of knowledge to draw from. The certification also provides an important form of professional recognition to individuals who have invested the time and effort to learn the particularities of the trademark administrator’s role and who have been successful in completing the course.
What are the benefits of the certification program?
Certification provides benefits both for trademark administrators and their employers.
The program covers a wide range of the potential duties and responsibilities of a trademark administrator from conducting searches, to filing, to procedures for correspondence with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and is designed to provide practical, hands-on learning that may be difficult to come by on the job. This can be particularly beneficial in a smaller organization, where the manpower, time and experience needed for training may be more limited.
For employers, the program offers an invaluable resource that can be relied upon to deliver comprehensive training that is up to date and relevant to current CIPO practices.
What has been the committee’s greatest/proudest accomplishment to date?
The Committee is particularly proud of the efforts that went into creating the content for the course and the certification exam. We had to ensure that the material was both comprehensive and appropriately challenging, and that it provided a fair and accurate benchmark to assess the necessary skills and knowledge of trademarks administrators. This was no easy feat! The Committee continues to work actively to keep the program up to date with the latest CIPO and legislative developments and is committed to ensuring that the program continues to provide useful, timely training.
However, the Committee’s proudest moments are definitely when we see individuals complete the program successfully and “graduate” with their CCTA designations! To date 27 individuals have received their CCTA designation and there are currently 57 people enrolled in the program.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the committee’s work this past year?
Luckily, the online format of the program has continued to work really well for people during the pandemic. Because the program was already designed to be self-directed and completed online, the shift to work-from-home did not affect much of our work or the delivery of our programs. Moreover, there have been some upsides to the pandemic in respect of committee work, in particular, the rise of the video meetings has meant more opportunities to get to see our committee members’ faces and to interact more directly with one another even across large distances. That has been a welcome change.
What are the committee’s plans for the next year?
The committee’s main focus in the year to come will be to continue to keep the course up to date as CIPO continues to roll out changes affecting the Canadian trademarks practice.
We would also like to start focusing on developing ongoing CLE and other value-add programs for trademark administrators so that they can continue to keep their knowledge up to date even after certification.
How can members get involved or support your work?
The committee is always looking for members who are interested in supporting our work. Committee members are heavily relied upon to help with updating and tweaking our program materials, and we hope that soon we will be looking for their help in developing our future CLE and programming offerings.
It is a great committee to join if you are looking for opportunities to contribute, bring your ideas to the table and to give back to trademarks community!
Our greatest thanks to our current members for all of their hard work to date: Karin Binder (Chair), Jennifer Dove (Vice-Chair), Anne-Josée Delcorde (IPIC Staff Liaison), Suzanne Antal, Catherine Douglas, Joanne Nardi, Kate Stewart-Tiralongo, and Debbie Valois.