This is the third and final blog in a three part series covering the Global IP Center release of its second edition global IP report entitled Charting the Course.
Today, I'm tackling the key innovative pharmaceutical IP issues contained in the report and looking at why Canadian policy makers and patients should care about this.
Click here for the full site.
Canadian Strengths: A Work in Progress
Focusing first on Canadian strengths, the report notes that the recent signing of a framework agreement by Prime Minister Harper with the European Union to bring in a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between our two regions was an important step forward in progressing Canadian IP standards. Overall this is important for Canada as our two-way trade is equivalent to 60% of our GDP, and one in five jobs is linked to exports.
The Index notes that Canada has taken some steps toward modernizing Canada's patent and IP system for innovators by signing this framework. Specifically, the Government of Canada has agreed to measures that, if implemented correctly, will bring Canadian right of appeal and patent term restoration measures more in line with our competitors. I've blogged about the importance of these measures previously and think that any steps taken by governments to promote modernized IP regimes for truly innovative companies is a step in the right direction.
However, as the index authors note, these provisions have not yet been finalized and implemented, and for them to directly impact the index score for Canada, the provisions will need to reflect meaningful IP improvements.
"An effective regime to support intellectual property rights is important for Canada's growing knowledge-based economy and helps to foster competitiveness, innovation and creativity, attract investment and stimulate jobs and growth." --Government of Canada CETA Overview
So, a step in the right direction! I'll be sure to provide updates on the progress of these provisions in the coming months.
One other area that the Index notes that Canada is making the right legislative changes is in placing border control measures to help stop counterfeiting. The federal government re-tabled Bill C-8 to combat counterfeiting and piracy this year to give Canadian customs officers the power to stop fake meds getting into Canada and doing harm here to Canadian patients.
Canadian Competitive Gaps: More Work To Do
"Unfortunately, along with these opportunities we also see countries take steps backward on IP. India, which again finished last in the second edition of the Index, continues to allow for the deterioration in its IP climate. And countries like Canada, Brazil, and South Africa for example, continue to avoid opportunities to promote and protect IP--to their detriment." --David Hirschmann, President and CEO
Global Intellectual Property Center: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
So while gains are in progress, there are some areas identified by the Index authors where Canada is falling behind and has some work to do to catch up to our competitors.
In particular, the Report notes that Canada's patent requirements relating to 'usefulness' of a patent have been eroded through complex legal and court driven decisions. The end result of a large percentage of decisions is that globally valid patents are being prematurely invalidated in Canada, and only in Canada. This means that Canada has become an IP outlier as it relates to innovative pharmaceutical patent protection.
The Take Away: What Does it All Mean for Canadians?
As a small, highly trade reliant country, I think it is imperative for Canadian policy makers to assess these findings and look to improve our standings over time. Innovation requires constant improvement, and self-assessment. This is just as true for governments as it is for globally innovative companies.
The impacts of doing nothing, or making policy decisions that do not support innovative companies means that Canada may miss out on global research and development investments. It also means that from a pharmaceutical perspective, that Canadian patients could potentially miss out on the latest in innovative medications.
You can read the full survey yourself right here.