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Intellectual Property Claims, Contract Disputes, Licensing Disputes, British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal, Ontario Small Claims Court, Nova Scotia Small Claims Court, United States, United Kingdom, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Policy Reform


This article investigates the jurisdiction and institutional competence of Canadian small claims courts and tribunals with respect to complex claims, and in particular, intellectual property (IP) claims. Recent research points to an increase in these types of claims. A doctrinal analysis finds small claims bodies have wide jurisdiction over intellectual property infringement, contract, and licensing disputes. They can also rule on issues of validity, though they cannot affect registrations in the databases of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Remedies including damages, accountings, and the recovery of infringing goods are available in many provinces. As to their capacity, the article assesses three representative forums within the lens of organizational justice—the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal, Ontario Small Claims Court, and Nova Scotia Small Claims Court—for how they assign claims, support decision-makers to reach “correct” decisions, and govern themselves to ensure quality. The BC and Ontario bodies fare well. Nova Scotia does not. The article assesses measures taken in the United States and United Kingdom to provide access to justice for IP small claims, and how the disparities in institutional readiness may impact Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises. The authors conclude by calling upon Canadian policymakers to better equip small claims bodies with the resources necessary to resolve IP claims.


Copyright © 2022 by Anthony Rosborough & Reagan Seidler

Publication Abbreviation

Queen's LJ