Intellectual property continues to grow its profile in the technology world. Big companies have long filed patents and trademarks as a strategy to protect and monetize the fruits of their R&D. As more start-up companies were created, particularly in the 1990’s, patent filings increasingly became part of the pathway to obtain investors and, hopefully, commercial success. The U.S. has been a leader in converting innovation to IP rights. Between 1960 and 1988, the number of American-origin patent applications filed at the US Patent Office hovered between about 60,000 and 75,000 per year. From there, patent filings almost doubled by 1999, and were almost doubled again by 2019 to 285,000 per year. Even though Canadian researchers can innovate with the best in the world, many Canadian companies historically lagged in filing patent applications and commercialization. There are increasing efforts recently to increase our conversion of Canadian innovation to IP rights. Of course, a company needs more than IP to succeed in a modern innovation economy. IP is one additional tool to assist the hard work of commercialization.
In acknowledgement of International IP Day on April 26, this article will address some examples of focused government initiatives that are being taken in Canada to help financially support IP protection. This is not a comprehensive survey, just highlighting some bright spots that lawyers should be aware of for their clients. There is no one-stop clearinghouse website of financial supports for protecting IP, so encourage clients to look under every stone. This article will in particular focus on the early stage of R&D, where Canadian companies have more opportunity and supports to secure IP than ever before.