Intellectual Property and Innovation: My Testimony to Parliament

I was recently invited to testify about intellectual property and innovation before the Government of Canada’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Several of my recommendations were integrated into the Committee’s subsequent report to the House of Commons.

My comments, which you can read or watch on Canada’s Parliamentary website, suggest:

IP-related strategies for Canada’s innovation system probably don’t involve many legislative reforms or new international agreements for stronger protection or enforcement. What is needed first is a comprehensive, independent, evidence-based review of our entire framework in the context of innovation policy. Only then can we consider some possibilities for meaningful, practical solutions, like better intergovernmental policy coordination, more streamlined application and adjudication procedures, and enhanced cooperation between the public and the private sector.

When the Committee issued its final report, The Intellectual Property Regime in Canada, my testimony was cited more than a half-dozen times. The Committee, for example, highlighted (on page 21) my remarks about intellectual property and innovation measurement metrics:

IP outputs are a substantial part of the formula that many organizations currently use to evaluate Canadian innovation. Intellectual property outputs form one quarter of the weighting of our D grade in innovation. That’s attributable to our poor statistical performance in acquiring certain kinds of IP rights. Unfortunately, the formula wrongly presumes that IP outputs indicate innovation. Innovation and invention are not the same thing. A true innovation has market value. A patented invention may or may not.

The report’s section on “Policy Principles: The Big Picture” began (on page 25) by noting my comment that “the overarching principles of IP policies should be to increase certainty and reduce transaction costs.”

I’m thrilled that I could contribute to the Committee’s understanding of these crucial issues, and through my testimony, help to move the IP policy debate in Canada forward.