Moving Canada’s Innovation Agenda Forward:
The Success of Intellectual Property Legislative Reform in Canada
Numerous factors including court decisions, growing recognition of the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights, and trends in litigation, have brought to the forefront deficiencies of the Canadian patent and trade-mark legislative framework.
For over 15 years, IPIC’s members had been working on raising the profile of two issues related to the Patent and Trade-marks Acts which impact Canadian businesses and innovators: confidential communications and inadvertent loss of rights. IPIC and its members had been attempting to fix these gaps in the Patent and Trade-marks Acts for 12 years, but were stagnated.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
IPIC decided to kick advocacy efforts into overdrive and actively pursue changes to IP laws to make Canada more competitive and better foster innovation.
IPIC’s overall goal focused on showcasing how the government could make simple fixes that would have far reaching positive impacts on Canada’s competitiveness and simultaneously foster innovation and job creation.
IPIC’s objectives included:
Engaging its membership
Obtaining support from related organizations
Strategic meetings with government decision makers
IPIC launched an aggressive grassroots advocacy campaign within the membership. This initiative was an incredible success with meetings taking place with more than 50 MPs from all parties across Canada. This outreach in the ridings helped bring IPIC’s issues to the forefront and resulted in paving the way for high level meetings to take place in Ottawa.
Over the course of the reinvigorated advocacy effort, IPIC met with relevant Ministerial staff at Industry Canada, several different advisors in the Prime Minister’s Office, and almost every single member of the Standing Committee on Industry in addition to many other MPs from all parties from other committees on Parliament Hill. Through direct advocacy on Parliament Hill, IPIC received multiple opportunities to appear before committees in both the Senate and the House of Commons to explain why changes to the Patent and Trade-marks Acts were so important in fostering innovation and create employment opportunities.
Concurrently, IPIC oversaw the submission of 12 responses to government consultations prepared on a number of topics related to the Patent Law Treaty, the protection of confidential communications between clients and their IP agents and inadvertent loss of rights. IPIC’s Council reviewed, edited and approved submissions prepared by members, a testament to the strength of membership commitment to reforming IP legislation in Canada.
It was important to IPIC to showcase support from other organizations that promote innovation and business in Canada in order to create a broader network of support for the proposed legislative changes. IPIC met with a number of associations including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. These meetings resulted in more than 25 letters sent to relevant policy advisors/MPs in support of the protection of confidential communications, by companies, associations, and law/IP firms over the duration of IPIC’s campaign.
The Federal Government’s 2015 Budget proposed significant improvements in Canada’s intellectual property framework, protecting the confidential communications between innovators and their IP advisors from forced disclosure in litigation and providing the Canadian Intellectual Property Office with the ability to extend deadlines in cases of force majeure events, a direct victory resulting from IPIC’s leadership.
BENEFITS TO MEMBERS AND SOCIETY
The changes in legislation in the 2015 Budget represent a true victory for the association and its members. Most importantly, it will spur the innovation Canada’s economy needs by improving, at no cost, the IP framework and bringing us into line with our international competitors and partners. Canadian businesses will be more competitive, which will help drive economic growth and job creation.
Following the release of the Budget, IPIC followed up with Industry Canada, a department that had been particularly supportive of the requested legislative changes. Minister Moore’s office is working with IPIC on an event in support of the new measures which will be broadcast to the public. This is an important indicator of the positive relationships fostered with the Minister and other MPs throughout IPIC’s advocacy efforts.