I would just start by noting that I think everybody agrees that respect for copyright in educational institutions and respect for the creators is important. One really nice thing about open access, especially in many disciplines in which virtually everything now is published as open access, is that the author has given permission to use these works. We're not talking about it. Part of the frustration, I think, from within the educational community is that you have some groups demanding payment, in a sense, for works that the authors themselves have said effectively ought to be made available. Of course, the public has also paid for and funded them.
The issue of patent trolls is a significant issue for many businesses, certainly in the United States, but elsewhere as well. The reference is by and large to entities that scoop up patents. They are not themselves, in many instances, the inventor or the creator or the innovator; they are simply trying to acquire some of that innovation, that patent, and then use it in an aggressive manner, often to try to exact from various parties licensing terms or other sorts of payments.
If our goal within the patent system is to try to incentivize new kinds of innovation, patent trolls aren't doing that. They're not creating anything new; they are simply using the legal system, in a sense, to try to capture as much revenue as they can without any of that creativity.
We've seen in the United States, where patent awards are so large, that the threat from patent trolls is significant. There are real concerns that the same kind of thing can move up here. Of course, Canadian businesses operating in the United States have faced precisely this. Research in Motion is the classic example in the Canadian context. It faced this to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
We haven't done much to try to address concerns about misuse or abuse of intellectual property in Canada. There are copyright elements here, there are trademark elements, and there are also patent elements. In my early remarks, I tried to touch on a number of different kinds of things that we could do that would seek to dissuade patent trolls from operating here in Canada. I know there have been some discussions already within the government around the necessity for this.
As we think about both an IP strategy and a copyright reform strategy, I think we ought to be mindful of some of the things the Supreme Court of Canada has said about the need for balance concerning intellectual property; that at times it may just as much mean ensuring that there is not misuse or abuse of that intellectual property as ensuring that people have the effective tools and rights that they need.