In the context of NATO procurement, which leads to their operations, the approach is similar to that of Canada's. In my career in procurement, 20 years ago, although IP was something that was there, we talked about it quickly because, quite frankly, we could give you the whole intellectual property for an aircraft or a ship, but unless you had the entire industrial complex to build it, it wasn't worth that much. Today we're in a very different situation because of software technology and those sorts of things.
At the same time, we're more interested, but for a lot of companies, it is the crown jewels. It is something they guard very closely. For us, almost on a procurement-by-procurement basis, we look at how we will do it, how we will approach it. The view is not amorphous in industry, so if you're a provider of equipment, you want to guard it; if you're a supporter of equipment, you want us to acquire it.
We spend a lot of time looking at the right amount. There's ownership of it. There's licence to use it and to have it used. That's an area for us. Generally, as the Government of Canada, we tend not to seek ownership, because having that might preclude Canadian companies from having opportunities elsewhere, and that is not something we want to stand in the way of. We've seen that with Lockheed Martin Canada and their success around the world in updating New Zealand frigates. We've licensed them in the foreground IP that we own, and we do that in a number of cases. We have a similar agreement with MDA, now Maxar. The Triton system was enabled by some of the IP we have that we paid to develop.
The issue, sir, becomes one of, as you negotiate and do it, what you can afford, what you can do, how much access you need, and how much access you can get. I understand exactly what you're saying in the context of in-service support, whether it's by industry or it's by our own fleet maintenance facilities and service battalions and air maintenance squadrons. We try to be very judicious at this and strike a balance, and it's very similar in NATO. They have a practice such that if it's the foreground—what's done and what has occurred—it's theirs, but it's almost on a procurement-by-procurement basis.
In the case of the Canadian surface combatants, we probably spent the better part of a year on, among other things, negotiating intellectual property. We took a position and closed a lot of it, but there were certain things on which the bidders had such different views that we literally set them aside and said that for whoever is selected, we'll establish a short window in which we will complete the negotiations on intellectual property with them, and if we're not successful, we'll go to the second-scoring bidder.
It's exactly as you indicate. There could be a policy to say we'll own it all. We'll break the bank.
The other issue with intellectual property, from my experience, is that owning all that capacity brings with it a duty to maintain it, which is not trivial. I've literally seen at times that we've bought it, locked it up somewhere and not touched it for years, and have then come back to it and found that its utility was limited and that it would have been better to have been retained in the hands of industry.
The issue often is access for a right to use and to have it used. Even for NATO, you can take that position, but where do you find yourself in the discussions with industry?