Ottawa is set to unveil its intellectual property strategy on Thursday, although the details will look rather familiar to anybody who has read the budget.
The federal government will re-announce plans to spend $30 million to create an independent “patent collective” as a pilot project to allow access to intellectual property and legal protection for small and medium-sized businesses who are trying to get in on the innovation economy.
The release of the national IP strategy on Thursday lines up nicely with World IP Day; the hope is that legislative tweaks and a few new programs will help in the effort to turn Canada from an intellectual property laggard to something a bit more competitive.
The IP strategy includes plans to close “loopholes” to discourage bad behaviour when it comes to patent infringement and trademark abuse.
Government press briefing materials note that IP intensive industries south of the border account for 19 per cent of jobs and 35 per cent of GDP, while Canada lags behind with 14 per cent of jobs and 25 per cent of GDP.
Moreover, firms that hold formal IP are more likely to engage in product innovation, more likely to export around the world, and on average pay their employees more.
“We know IP is a critical ingredient in helping Canadian businesses reach commercial success,” Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said. “Canada’s IP Strategy will make sure Canadians know the value of their intellectual property and how to leverage it to innovate, increase profits and create middle-class jobs.”
Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, Ottawa was ready with endorsements for the plan.
“Minister Bains has been a tireless champion of innovative Canadian companies and I’m delighted that under his leadership ISED put in place this most significant pillar for an innovation strategy,” RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie said in an emailed statement. “Raising sophisticated domestic capacity in IP ensures Canada will improve the commercialization of our ideas globally.”
The IP strategy appears to be mostly a retread of the $85.3 million over five years that the government announced in the budget.
Building Canada up into a globally-competitive intellectual property player is a big deal for the Liberal government. In a lot of ways, the $950 million earmarked for five innovation superclusters across the country is fundamentally about bringing academics and business together to create new technology and new commercial applications to give Canada a competitive advantage.
When soliciting proposals for supercluster funding, Innovation Canada stipulated that applicants needed to have a clearly articulated intellectual property strategy.
As part of the strategy, the government also wants to do more education and awareness, including $2 million earmarked over three years for a survey to figure out “how Canadians understand and use IP, including groups that have traditionally been less likely to use IP, such as women and Indigenous entrepreneurs.”
The government also wants to create an “IP Marketplace” which will become a centralized portal for businesses and innovators to create a searchable list of all intellectual property held by government and academia, to aid in licencing and commercialization.