Canada needs an intellectual property (IP) strategy that is focused not on more or less, but on better. It’s not good enough to have an IP policy based on demands from our trading partners. It may be that the policies they are advocating for Canada are the ones we need, but we cannot know that for sure until we think it through as a nation.
Canada ranks among the very top countries in terms of new ideas (as evidenced by our number of published scientific articles per capita), but ranks much lower on the innovation scale. Canadians have ideas, but many do not know how to exploit those ideas. We need a conversation about how much protection we need, how much is enough to create the right incentives (and how much is too much), whether our venture capital market is good enough, what happens when intellectual property matters are referred to our courts, and how Canadian intellectual property is treated in other countries (especially the United States).
We need an IP policy appartus that is dynamic and responsive. Our economic growth depends on agriculture and the development of natural resources, but also – and perhaps more than anything else – on new ideas, and businesses to implement them (online games, high technology, and green technology spring to mind). Even in agriculture, forestry, and the exploitation of Canada’s vast natural resources, the real value added that will grow our economy comes from the technology to produce, extract, and transform those resources. And that is intellectual property.