Spearheaded by the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister, the Canadian government recently announced its plan to put intellectual property at the forefront of Canadian businesses by issuing an intellectual property strategy. This is the first of its kind in Canada. The Federal government recognizes that intellectual property intensive businesses enjoy increased profitability, as well as positively impact employment rates. Moreover, statistics demonstrate that intellectual property intensive companies are more likely to export globally. Specifically, Minister Bains explains:
We know IP is a critical ingredient in helping Canadian businesses reach commercial success. Canada’s IP strategy will make sure Canadians know the value of their intellectual property to leverage it to innovate, increase profits and create middle-class jobs”.
Intellectual Property is as a Business Asset
At the crux of this policy decision is the realization that intellectual property is a significant business asset, which is a fact that is underappreciated by Canadian businesses. Interestingly, Minister Bains noted that only 10% of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada have IP and only 9% have IP strategies. Minister Bains agrees that intellectual property is the most valuable business asset in the knowledge economy. (Not to toot our own horn, but this is a philosophy that Froese Law has always espoused. In fact, one of our first articles published discussed the power of the brand. Click here for full article.)
What is Included in the IP Strategy?
The IP strategy includes a multi-dimensional approach to bolstering Canada’s intellectual property:
1. $30 million earmarked to create an independent patent collective to allow access to intellectual property and legal protection for small and medium-sized businesses entering the innovation economy.
2. Close legislative loopholes to discourage patent infringement and trademark abuse.
3. Dedicate $950 million for funding of five innovation superclusters, where intellectual property is a central component of the commercial endeavour.
4. Utilize $2 million to educate Canadians about the importance of intellectual property. Interestingly, the government recognizes that women and Indigenous entrepreneurs are less likely to use intellectual property. (For our part, Froese Law issues weekly newsletters and hosts free monthly seminars to help educate on legal developments. In addition, Ashlee Froese has been a legal mentor for years at various Toronto-based incubators and accelerators providing legal advice to entrepreneurs.)
5. Create an IP marketplace, which will enable businesses and innovators to create a searchable list of intellectual property held by government and academia to aid in commercialization and innovation.
What’s the Next Step?
In essence, the Canadian government has given the gold star to intellectual property. It is strongly encouraging businesses to invest in their own intellectual property and to devise robust intellectual property strategies. It has also placed an emphasis on women business owners to appreciate the importance of intellectual property as a business asset. We live in a branded world that is based upon a knowledge-based economy. Do not sell yourself short by forgetting to protect your intellectual property.