Skip to main content
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
Get full digital access to globeandmail.com
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
A scary good deal on trusted journalism
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
SAVE OVER $140
OFFER ENDS OCTOBER 31
// //

Electro-Motive's London plant, is being closed by Caterpillar, throwing 460 out of work.

A Toronto Star editorial from this morning:

"Then we watched Caterpillar Inc., the owner of a productive locomotive firm in London, bust its union (the Canadian Auto Workers), thumb its nose at both the community and the Ontario government, then close the factory, throwing its 460 workers on the scrap heap and walking away with the company's patents and technology."

I decided to examine whether there is any truth to this claim, that Canadian patents and technology are making their way south of the border.

Story continues below advertisement

Electro-Motive does have a large number of patents in Canada. A quick search of Canadian patents finds 48 separate patents. On the surface, the Star's claim does appear reasonable.

The first patent on the list is for something called a turbocharger rotor. The owner of the patent is listed as "Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. (United States of America)", the applicant was "General Motors Corp. (United States of America)" which is the original owner of Electro-Motive and the three inventors are listed as: Svihla, Gary R. (United States of America) Duve, Eric J. (United States of America) Carr, John M. (United States of America).

The U.S. patent for the same technology lists the residences of the inventors as: Svihla, Gary R. (Chicago, Ill.), Duve, Eric J. (Riverside, Ill.), Carr, John M. (Chicago, Ill.). The headquarters of Electro-Motive is in La Grange, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. This technology was clearly developed at the La Grange facility by scientists who live in the United States.

Of the 48 Canadian patents, 47 have their inventors listed as being in the United States. Their equivalent U.S. patents have the inventors living in the Chicago area, near the La Grange plant.

One patent does list two of the four inventors as being from Canada. This 1998 patent for Locomotive adhesion-enhancing material mixtures was filed jointly by GM and the National Research Council of Canada. The U.S. patent reveals the two Canadian inventors are from Richmond, B.C., and Vancouver. If they were working in the London facility, they would have an extremely long commute.

There is simply no evidence to suggest that patentable technology was being developed in the London facility. The London plant was a branch plant for a U.S. company; the research and development was being conducted in the head office in the United States.



Mike Moffatt is a chemical industry consultant and a lecturer in the business, economics and public policy group at the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Story continues below advertisement



Special to The Globe and Mail

*We want to hear from you. If you've suffered a job loss in the manufacturing industry, send your story to businesscommunity@globeandmail.com. We'll edit and share some of your stories with Globe readers.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies