Evidence of meeting #31 for Industry, Science and Technology in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was innovation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Mark Eisen  President, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada
  • Graham Henderson  Co-chair, Canadian Intellectual Property Council
  • Michel Gérin  Executive Director, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada
  • Ruth Corbin  Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, CorbinPartners Inc., As an Individual
  • Jeremy de Beer  Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

9:55 a.m.

Co-chair, Canadian Intellectual Property Council

Graham Henderson

I agree with that.

Again, I think there's a large role for business. If you look at the various accelerator centres, I think that type of initiative is extremely important in order to promote the diffusion of ideas.

I think CIPO, I'll go back to that, has to be empowered. I think it has to be expanded. I think it has to be provided with more resources. I think the U.S. has an IP czar. Our having an IP czar is important, as is the intellectual property council we talked about. Intellectual property is important to all departments of government.

I just want to add one thing about evidence base. There are 197 footnotes in the road map for change report. There are 134 in the time for change report. There is an enormous amount of evidence that is already out there. I don't know that we really need to go about reinventing the wheel. Ruth actually has assimilated all of it.

I would be cautious in committing the government to lengthy, years-long studies of an issue that really has been studied to death around the world already.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

I think Mr. Gérin had a comment on your question, Mr. McColeman.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Brant, ON

Go ahead.

9:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada

Michel Gérin

There are simple approaches as well. We're trying to do one with the provinces. When somebody is starting a business and goes to the provincial government to ask what they need to do to start their business, it's simple for the person to say, “Maybe register your name as a trademark so you don't lose it later,” or “Get a patent if you have an invention, before you start selling it”--just that basic approach.

Mr. Henderson mentioned CIPO. It's probably the only group right now tasked with raising awareness. The problem is it's not their core mandate. As revenues drop if there are fewer filings, that's the first place they cut, the outreach program. When revenues come up, then they'll do more outreach. We need some form of stable funding for that awareness to happen.

10 a.m.

President, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada

Mark Eisen

I think part of the issue is that it's an extremely complex area. I think I read that on Thursday somebody used the terminology of drinking from a fire hydrant.

We have to focus the discussion on the uses, advantages, and bottom-line benefits of intellectual property to the business, and not worry about the nuances, the subtleties, and dotting the i's and crossing the t's, which are really things that can be dealt with once the benefits have been determined.

10 a.m.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Prof. Jeremy de Beer

I also think we need to focus not only on the benefits, but on the risks and the perils. If business leaders know that poor intellectual property management can sink them instead of save them, it puts fear into them, and they had better understand it. We're starting to see this. You can't read a weekly issue of The Economist without reading an article on patents or copyright, or some kind of IP issue.

I think it matters who we target.

10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

I'm sorry, sir, we're over time. Thank you very much.

Now on to Mr. Masse, who was talking about the intellectual property of Mr. Lake just a moment ago.

10 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

That's right. His catch phrase is “trademark”, so we won't use that any more.

I want to start by noting that the response to the 2007 report was miserable. We had unanimous consent, and we also pushed the issues a little bit further, and we've only seen a couple of movements.

Recommendations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 16 are all of the Criminal Code. Recommendations 9 and 10 are regulations. On recommendation 11, the CBSA has been cut now by more than $100 million, which required more resources. For recommendation 12, we now have the CBSA excluded from the Shiprider program. Recommendation 13 is regulations. In recommendation 14, the RCMP needed more resources and jurisdiction, and recommendation 15 is the same with Health Canada.

When we were looking at some of the issues at that time, it wasn't just about the knock-off batteries that have mercury going into our landfills. We were looking at things like panels in hospitals that were made illegally and were deficient, and so forth, and actually had the Canada standards stamp on them. So it's quite serious. We're talking about airplane parts, we're talking about automobile parts, and a whole series of things.

My selfish concern comes from a manufacturing sector that's been battered. In 2005 we had an $18 billion manufacturing deficit of exports. It's now $80 billion. So what I was focused on, as well as the public safety side, the Health Canada side with regard to food products and so forth, was also expanding our capabilities in manufacturing again.

Where do we go from here? I've heard the word “czar”. Dr. de Beer, you talked about a panel, a commission, so to speak.

I still want us back in the game of manufacturing. How do we get there? I would ask Mr. Henderson to start, and go across the panel. I want to hear what we can do here, right now, to get us back in the game of manufacturing, because, selfishly, those value-added jobs are disappearing across this country, and innovation, intellectual property, whatever you want to talk about.... I know you want us to talk about those words, but our constituents sometimes roll their eyes back in their skulls, and it's not a topic they really get engaged in. But they do understand jobs, and I really believe this is entirely connected to jobs. I'd like to know how we get there right now.

10 a.m.

Co-chair, Canadian Intellectual Property Council

Graham Henderson

Yes, it is connected to jobs.

Implementing those recommendations is not expensive. The IP crime task force cost something like $25 million.

I think what we have to remember is that these are billion-dollar problems that we're trying to solve, and I think we all, all taxpayers, share a desire not to create additional tax burdens. Nobody wants that. But if the government is making smart investments in infrastructure that are going to create jobs and safeguard our marketplaces, then I think that's a wise investment of taxpayers' money.

Implement these here. That means start there and develop. I think you're right. I think it's going to translate directly into jobs.

10 a.m.

Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, CorbinPartners Inc., As an Individual

Dr. Ruth Corbin

The main thing to realize is that manufacturing companies themselves have more than a majority of their asset value tied up in intellectual property. I don't see the inconsistency.

You have manufacturers, but you recognize, as a leader of that organization, that the know-how, the trademarks associated with the products you're producing, possible patenting, and possibly copyrighting of certain of your working documents are where your added value is going to be.

I actually find that this IP discussion is the secret to getting those jobs back, to enhancing the value of our manufacturing companies, and is not the competitor to it.

10:05 a.m.

President, Intellectual Property Institute of Canada

Mark Eisen

My understanding is that innovation leads to jobs, so incentivize innovation every single way you can. Liberally grant rights and patents and trademarks. As long as they're well deserved there should be no reason not to grant these things. And they should be funded. They should be funded to some degree at the taxpayer expense, because they result directly in jobs.

10:05 a.m.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Prof. Jeremy de Beer

I actually disagree. I don't think granting IP rights liberally and basically seeing that as a panacea for the problems of the manufacturing sector is the right strategy at all. In fact you're more likely to get more low-quality patents. If we just basically tell everybody to go out and get patents, it costs them money, or taxpayers' money, and what does it really accomplish?

I do agree strongly that we need to focus on innovation, because innovation is the key to enhancing productivity. There is a role for the IP system to play here. Dr. Corbin mentioned that branding is very important. But manufacturers, especially SMEs, may not know the value of the trademark system to promote and protect their brands. Sure, there's a problem of counterfeit goods and enforcement, but that's not really the root of the problem for the manufacturing sector either.

One of the things they could do is have better training and awareness and education. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and in fact IP offices worldwide, have databases disclosing how-to manuals for all kinds of innovative products and processes. Patents expire 20 years after the application, so there's a whole body of knowledge, technical knowledge, technical specifications, basically how-to manuals, in patent databases. Manufacturers could tap into that, find out whether the invention is in the public domain, and if so, use it, and if not, find out who owns it and start to negotiate collaborative agreements to share technology. There's a wealth of information there that could be accessed.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Sweet

Thank you, Mr. Masse.

We're now on to Mr. Braid for five minutes.

May 15th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to all of the witnesses for being here this morning and for your excellent presentations.

I'm hoping to reach most of you with my questions, so we'll get going.

Professor de Beer, there was a reference earlier to perhaps considering the merit of a specialized court in Canada. Can you point to any examples of effective specialized courts in other jurisdictions that we might consider?

10:05 a.m.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, As an Individual

Prof. Jeremy de Beer

The problem with the question is “effective” specialized courts. A number of other jurisdictions have created courts like this. The U.K., for example, has created the U.K. Patents County Court, which has failed to develop the type of expertise that many had hoped it would, or really solve the problems with access to adjudication.

I think the key, and this is something that a task force or a independent review could do, would be to assess the success of different countries that have tried to create this, comparing the U.K. Patents County Court to the U.S. Federal Circuit, and to try to create a system that's based upon the best of all of those. But that type of evidence or that type of information simply doesn't exist. That study hasn't been done.