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Intellectual property (IP) is the lifeblood of economic development in the innovation economy. Those that own and control rights to IP are able to benefit economically and allow others to share in that benefit. City technologies are underpinned by advances in artificial intelligence, software patents, well trained proprietary algorithms and diverse and deep data sets. Whether or not the patent system is fair or effective, it is a reality of global business. For Canadians to participate in the economic advantages of technology, Canadians must control innovation assets.

Historically, Canada has been a world leader in invention – the creation of IP, only to see foreign technology companies end up owning the IP when the innovation’s economic benefits begin to return, with the resultant economic benefit being forever lost. Because IP is zero-sum – you either win and everyone else loses, or someone else wins and you lose – it has led to two separate but related problems for Canadians: a limited return on innovation investment and decreased freedom to operate. A strategically structured patent collective can ensure economic benefit across the Canadian innovation ecosystem and for future generations.

The patent collective will aim to reduce the asymmetry in IP position for new Canadian innovators. The patent collective will collectively pool global patent assets of strategic defensive rights. These rights will increase the freedom of Canadian companies to operate globally by both increasing access to defensive rights, thereby limiting the aggression of predatory patent holders, and retaining IP that has been generated by Canadian supported research.

As part of a comprehensive cities innovation strategy, the patent collective would also provide company level support for IP generation, separate from the pooled rights. Further, given the current limited sophistication around IP commercialization, the patent collective would increase IP knowledge and execution. These activities could also be paired with a robust sector-focused prior art library that would be a critical asset in reducing the ability of poor-quality patents to be asserted. It is only through a strategic and targeted patent collective that we can ensure that Canadians and the Canadian economy will benefit from innovation in cities.