Action needed to recognize the value of intellectual property for Canada

OTTAWA, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian businesses and governments both undervalue the potential of intellectual property (IP) to contribute to Canada's economic prosperity, according to a new report from The Conference Board of Canada, Intellectual Property in the 21st Century.

Intellectual property is the product of an inventive mind. It consists of innovative creations and expressions of novel ideas, which are frequently turned into tangible products or recorded onto some medium for others to use or enjoy. In contrast to innovation, which is a vague term, intellectual property - comprising primarily of trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets - classifies innovations into measureable economic assets.

The report identifies 19 implications for businesses and policy-makers:

Businesses

Corporate boards can help strengthen their companies' asset value by recognizing, auditing, measuring, exploiting, and protecting the intellectual property developed in their normal course of business.

"Business leadership comes from the top of organizations. However, there is very little published practical guidance for corporate directors on the new innovation economy, and the questions they should be asking of management to recognize and monetize their organization's intellectual property," said Gilles Rhéaume, Vice-President, Public Policy of the Conference Board.

Policy-makers

The report notes that much of the debate around intellectual property has been diminished by an exaggerated dichotomy between the rights of creators versus the rights of users. A more effective approach is to find a policy balance between incentives to create (including protection rights) and incentives to diffuse (including fair dealing exemptions to monopoly rights). The pursuit of effective rights is more likely to achieve consensus among diverse groups of stakeholders.

Regarding new copyright legislation, the report recommends that the federal government should establish an unambiguous statement of vision and priorities for copyright reform, prior to drafting and tabling legislation.

The report views ratification of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) internet treaties as inevitable, which will bring Canada in line with decisions of its major trading partners. However, the report notes that WIPO ratification leaves room for customized made-in-Canada implementation tactics. Ratification need not preclude Canada from addressing legitimate stakeholder concerns.

Intellectual property rights are just one form of stimulus for innovation, not the sole guarantor of Canada's innovation performance and economic competitiveness. Policy makers should always consider them in combination with other stimulants to innovation, including R&D tax credits, strategic procurement, and regulatory incentives to adopt new technologies.

The report is authored by Dr. Ruth M. Corbin, Managing Partner of CorbinPartners Inc., adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and corporate director.

The report also publishes as an Appendix the proceedings of a roundtable meeting on the subject in September 2009. It is publicly available on the Conference Board's e-library.

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

For further information: For further information: Yvette Diepenbrock, Media Relations, Tel.: (613) 526-3090 ext. 289, E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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