Canadians Patents Being Sold To Foreign Entities: Study

Canadian innovators are increasingly selling their patents to foreign industry and governments, according to a new study.

Despite having educated workers and strong research centres, many Canadian-invented patents are being bought by foreign firms rather than developed by Canadian ones. This s the finding of a new report published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy. It says Canadians are increasingly likely to transfer or sell their intellectual property to foreign entities, especially with deep-pocketed American companies keen to invest in innovation.

Patent ownership is important for Canadian innovators who want to commercialize their inventions and scale them, states the report. It helps them obtain financing and fend off rivals. Yet, in tracking U.S. patents with at least one Canadian inventor over a 20-year period, the study found the proportion of Canadian-invented patents transferred to foreign firms on the date of issue jumped to 45% from 18%.

Strengthening intellectual property laws isn't likely to have much impact on scaling up activity in Canada, the study says. Policies that improve awareness of the value of patent ownership, and make it easier and less expensive to access global markets, could make a difference. The study calls for a federal strategy aimed at promoting better management of intellectual property, as well as policies and incentives to support patent retention.