Canada at a Crossroads with Intellectual Property

Canada stands as a role model for the rest of the world. The positions we take, the agreements we sign, and the innovations we encourage influence policies and decisions in developed and developing nations alike. These ideas took center stage at last week's event, Canada at a Crossroads: How Canada's Policies Impact American Innovation and Competitiveness, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center. The main focus of the day's conversation was the differences in the standards of intellectual property (IP) protections between us and the United States.

LillyPad_CA_GIPC_2.jpgAnd before I get into the takeaways of the event, it is important to note that while we enjoy some positive differences with our neighbor - Hockey vs. Football; Tim Horton's vs. Starbucks-- some of these differences, such as Intellectual Property, can have significant implications on the future of both of our nations.  

Intellectual property acts as the backbone of our global innovation ecosystem. It provides businesses and University researchers alike the protections they need to continue developing life-saving medicines. Crucially, investments in IP bring investments to Canada. As I have written before, we face many challenges with regards to protecting IP on the Federal level. So what can we do to improve? The answer: educate. We have to make sure every citizen in every Province understands the value IP brings to their lives. Below I've outlined three examples of the impact IP has on Canadian citizens that came up at last week's event:

  • IP supports trade. Trade agreements represent one value we can highlight to every citizen. Without agreeing to strong IP protections, job-boosting trade agreements like CETA could not get signed. Our growing knowledge-based economy can only benefit from the increase of strong IP protections we see via trade agreements.
  • IP supports partnerships. Partnerships in research represent another example of a benefit IP protections can bring to the Canadian public. More than 90 years ago, Canada played an important role in Lilly's innovation story when we partnered with researchers at the University of Toronto to help bring insulin to market. If we want to see this story replicated in the future, we must ensure we have the policies and protections in place to encourage partnerships.
  • IP supports public health. Counterfeit medicines threaten the lives of patients around the world. Enforcing standards and aggressively prosecuting counterfeiters can only happen by valuing IP protections. As the federal government continues to review Bill C-8, we see an opportunity for IP to help safeguard Canadians from the risks of fake medicines.

The biggest takeaway from the event was that we can do more. We need to do what we can to spread the message. Strong IP protections will benefit everyone, and we need to stand up and become the example the world needs to see.