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On Thursday, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains will release the Canadian government’s intellectual property (IP) strategy. Here’s a closer look at the details, obtained by The Globe and Mail:

The problem: Despite Canada’s traditional strengths in research, science and invention, Canada has a poor track record building homegrown global giants based on Canadian innovations. IP-intensive firms tend to grow faster and create higher-paying jobs than other firms. While IP-intensive industries in the United States account for 19 per cent of jobs and 35 per cent of GDP, in Canada those numbers are just 14 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. Intangible assets such as IP accounted for 84 per cent of the asset values for firms in the U.S. S&P 500 index in 2015, twice the level of the top 50 Canadian firms on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The situation: Through consultations the government learned there is weak IP literacy among Canadians; that cost and complexity were barriers to accessing the IP system; that IP was not fully understood or recognized in federal programs; and there was little knowledge of IP owned by the public sector.

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The strategy: A three-pronged approach involving legislative reforms, initiatives to improve IP awareness, education and advice, and development of strategic IP tools to help firms cut the cost and complexity of IP

The details:

  • Several changes to the Patent Act, including amendments to set new minimum requirements for demand letters from patent holders that suggest their patent is being infringed, requiring senders to specify what patents, products or activities constitute alleged patent infringement; and regulations to discourage bad behavior by patent trolls
  • New regulations to prevent “trademark squatting”; requiring trademark holders to use the trademarks within three years after registration to make them enforceable
  • Creation of a governance regime for patent and trademark agents to ensure professional and ethical standards are maintained
  • The Canadian Intellectual Property Office will launch programs to improve IP literacy and sophistication among Canadians, including creating an online toolkit to help firms understand IP products and tools and make informed decisions
  • $30-million to create a third-party pilot “patent collective” to acquire IP that Canadian firms could access to help them grow their business and defend against patent lawsuits
  • $18.7-million over five years to hire more Federal Court judges to streamline IP dispute resolution and for program management to reduce delays in copyright tariff setting at the Copyright Board of Canada
  • $17.5-million over five years to establish a dedicated team of government IP advisers to ensure government program officers have the knowledge and capacity to address IP issues and guide program recipients to improve their IP knowledge
  • $10.6-million for the Standards Council of Canada to work with innovative Canadian companies to push for the creation of global standards based on their patented technologies
  • $4.5-million for an “IP Marketplace” portal for businesses and innovators to research IP held by government and academia that they can license
  • $1-million over five years for IP legal clinics
  • $2-million for a survey to identify how Canadians understand and use IP
  • $1-million over five years for initiatives to support participation by Indigenous Canadians in national and international discussions about IP and how it interacts with traditional knowledge and cultural expression

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