It was just five years ago that the Liberal party, then mired in third place nationally, made innovation a centerpiece of its electoral strategy. The 2015 Liberal platform referenced “innovation” 10 times with promises to establish a national innovation agenda that would touch on everything from agriculture to the everyday work of government. Within weeks of the election, the role of industry minister was recast as the innovation, science and economic development minister, armed with a mandate letter peppered with instructions to pursue an innovation agenda.
Fast forward to 2020 and innovation has largely disappeared from the government’s radar screen with the word banished from the 2019 election platform. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that the response to COVID-19 has understandably emerged as job one, but the disappearance of innovation as a government policy priority raises serious concerns about how Canada will foster the economic growth needed to help recover from the devastating effects of the global pandemic.
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The Canadian government has unveiled its long-awaited plan to fix abuses with copyright’s notice-and-notice system as part of Bill C-86, its Budget Implementation Act. Last spring, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains released an IP strategy that promised safeguards against intellectual property abuse, particularly use of copyright notices to send settlement demands to Internet users. The Canadian notice-and-notice system was formalized in 2012 to allow rights holders to forward allegations of online copyright infringement to internet users through their internet service provider. The system was viewed as a win-win approach since it promised to deter infringement through education rather than legal threats. Yet within hours of taking effect, anti-piracy companies began sending notices that included settlement demands backed by threats of litigation.
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Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister, unveiled the government’s long-awaited intellectual property strategy Thursday by responding to the need to increase IP awareness, develop new IP tools for businesses, and counter IP misuse that harms both consumers and businesses. The plan to introduce new legislative rules to discourage misuse of intellectual property is particularly noteworthy since the rules should help foster a more progressive, balanced, and innovative legal framework.
My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that with proposed reforms to all of Canada’s main IP statutes, the government is taking the lead in combating the dark side of intellectual property protection. Since abuse of intellectual property rights may inhibit companies from innovating or discourage Canadians from taking advantage of the digital market, crafting rules that address misuse can be as important as providing effective protection.
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