By David MacDonald R emember how your parents always gave your friend the “best piece” of whatever the main course was when you had them over for dinner? It was usually takeout and as soon as it hit their plate, you had that inev- itable moment of eye contact where every relevant play- ground rhyme shot across the table at light speed. But you got over it. The [KFC] gravy train always travels both ways with friends, after all. Well, the Supreme Court of Canada is hoping that Canadian businesses and innovative startups see a late-June ruling the same way. McGill University law professor, Richard Gold told Bloomberg that the “bombshell decision” breaks down simply like this: “We’re now the only country in the devel- oped world that when an inventor says, ‘my invention does X,’ it doesn’t actually have to do X.” The “promise doctrine” currently in place was seen as a protection for Canadian inventors and entrepreneurs. It held that patents could be invalidated in Canada if they were proven to fail to perform as specified. Now, an untested concept is as good as an on-the- shelf product, effectively making it a lot easier for well-estab- lished, multinational companies to strip-mine potential intellectual property leaving smaller operations to struggle
to find a niche among the topsoil.
But reshaping the law to give a longer arm to international copyright law shouldn’t be a big surprise to Canadians. It’s just the most recent chapter in a saga that has seen the Supreme Court attempt to reform intellectual property rights laws in Canada as a recent decision that’s compelled Google to subvert search results that infringe on intellectu- al property demonstrated. Still, some leaders in the innovative industries see the Supreme Court’s decision as a direct attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s efforts to bring Canada to the forefront of the global tech game by attracting promising tech startups like Okta Inc. Gold said now that Canadian patents are simpler to obtain than in countries like the US that major holders of intellectual property like Microsoft and Alphabet have an even bigger advantage in Canada than they’ve ever had. The research-based biopharmaceutical company Astra- Zeneca is happy with the Supreme Court’s decision, telling Bloomberg via email that it “will resolve a key issue for Canadian innovators because it removes the ambiguity that the promise doctrine created. It signals to global investors that Canada is a good place to invest with a predictable and stable market, aligned to other major trading partners.” Source: Bloomberg
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JULY 2017
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