The New Gold Rush: Open Innovation in Canada

“It’s impossible for any organization to have all the best ideas”

~ General Electric, Open Innovation Manifesto

Open Innovation as an R&D strategy may seem counter-intuitive; traditional corporate culture dictates the use of secret R&D labs that operate in an information silo. However, open innovation can offer many competitive advantages, such as complimenting your company’s internal skills and know-how with external knowledge and ideas, lowering R&D costs, and increasing differentiation in the market.

For example, in 2000, the Canadian gold mining company Goldcorp Inc. crowdsourced gold prospecting in an under-performing mine; Goldcorp knew they were sitting on a literal and figurative gold mine but their geologists could not find the main deposits of gold. Goldcorp created a challenge for the general public; they released all Goldcorp’s geological data (going back as far as 1948) and offered $575,000 in prize money to the innovators that could find the elusive gold deposits. At the time, this type of open innovation was contrary to traditional mining practices: Goldcorp was admitting they were unable to find the gold and was releasing all their proprietary data. However, Goldcorp’s challenge led to more than 110 gold deposits that yielded over $6 billion worth of gold.

So, if that doesn’t answer why open innovation is a worthy consideration for any business, consider that patent filings in Canada have not increased significantly in the past ten (10) years. However, this stagnation is not an issue of lack of funding. Indeed, statistics from Industry Canada indicate that Canada is second only to the United States when it comes to venture capitalist funding.


Collaboration between companies and with the public at large should be considered to invigorate innovation in Canada. In another successful example of open innovation, Bombardier held a contest to solicit urban mobility designs. They created a social media open innovation community integrated with live, offline workshops. The contest rules stipulated that the winners must transfer their IP to Bombardier in exchange for a small prize. Bombardier also kept a right of first refusal for a year for all non-winning ideas. By creating a community around innovation, even outside their company, Bombardier created a sense of self-determination and pride in the community, that resulted in innovation pouring into Bombardier. Indeed, Bombardier received input from 2,486 participants from 102 countries that contributed 4,239 designs, 25,979 evaluations, 8,565 comments and 3,445 messages on Bombardier’s proposed urban transportation projects. As a bonus to uncovering a gold mine of innovation, Bombardier customers were very receptive to their more open and customer-orientated brand.

However, it is important to note that “open” innovation does not necessarily mean the innovation is in the public domain; the devil is in the details. IP ownership provisions should be clearly outlined in an agreement between all involved parties. The following questions can be helpful in outlining the preferred ownership details:

  • Who will own the IP stemming from the project (foreground IP)?
    • What about jointly created IP (joint ownership/management of IP assets should be approached with caution)?
    • Consider motivation factor for crowdsourcing when innovators own their IP?
    • Does a royalty-free license in perpetuity make sense given the motivations of the IP owner (i.e., the company or the innovator)?
  • What IP do the innovators and the company already own (background IP)?
  • Who owns the feedback stemming from the project?
  • Should a right of first refusal be included for IP that is not exploited during the project?

The bottom line: open innovation can be a great way to invigorate innovation within your company without resorting to a significant increase in R&D funding.

Canada is Modernizing its Patent Act and Rules to Streamline Procedures for Applicants

By: Edward Wu

Following the Government’s recent decision to ratify the Patent Law Treaty (PLT), the Orders in Council (OIC) published that the amendments to the Patent Act and Patent Rules under the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act and Economic Action Plan 2015 Act will come into force on October 30, 2019. Furthermore, the new Patent Rules will be published on July 10, 2019, under the Registration Number SOR/ 2019-0251.

The following important changes will be coming into force on October 30, 2019:

42-Month Deadline for National Phase Entries No Longer “As of Right”

The 42-month deadline for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) National Phase entries is no longer “as of right”. To utilize the 12-month extension, Applicants must submit a statement that the failure to meet the regular 30-month deadline was unintentional. Clients should be aware of the shortened period for national entries and make corresponding arrangements.

Requirements of Certified Copies for Priority Documents

After October 30, 2019, certified copies of priority documents must be filed with the Office; however, this requirement does not apply if the priority document is an earlier Canadian Application or, in the case of a national phase entry, where the PCT priority document requirement has already been satisfied. Clients should be aware of this change and make preparations for document certification, if necessary.

Easier to Obtain Filing Dates

International clients can now obtain a filing date without translating the Description because the new Patent Rules will no longer require an English or French Description for obtaining a filing date. The translation of the Description may now follow at a later date.

Furthermore, the new Patent Rules will allow Applicants to obtain a filing date on any day of the year by filing electronically, even on days where the Patent Office is closed for a holiday or the weekend. This important change will allow Applicants to obtain a quick filing date prior to any disclosures being made.

Restoration of Priority Claim

The new Patent Rules provide relief for Applicants that unintentionally miss the deadline for a priority request. The 12-month period for priority claims may be extended to fourteen (14) months if the Applicant submits that the delay was unintentional. However, the Federal Court may revoke the priority request if they later determine that the delay was intentional. Clients should be aware of the limited application of this new right of restoration for priority claims.

Please refer to Brion Raffoul’s previous article for more information regarding the new Patent Act and Patent Rules.

IAMPATENT1000 ranked Brion Raffoul as one of top 14 patent prosecution firms in Canada

IAMPATENT1000 is one of the most respected rankings for patent professionals globally because of peer review in validating its research. The IAMPATENT1000 published the following about Brion Raffoul:

Ottawa-based IP specialist Brion Raffoul is the recipient of emphatic feedback from the market: “Its professionals are extremely organised, proactive and very easy to work with. They have an excellent grasp of their subjects, execute with speed and precision, all while being very responsive.” Cited as being “entrepreneurial and driven practitioners with world-class skills”, Art Brion and Natalie Raffoul form the fulcrum around which the practice turns. Brion is an influential figure in the start-up community and a sought-after representative for companies spun off from universities. Business methods and software patents are bread and butter for Raffoul, who is a “creative, cost-effective, efficient and solutions-oriented partner”.

For more information: https://www.iam-media.com/directories/patent1000/rankings/canada

Natalie Raffoul and Dennis Haszko to attend INTA’s Annual Meeting from May 18-22

https://www.inta.org/2019annual/Pages/Home.aspx

The INTA Annual Meeting has become the largest intellectual property congress every year. Managing partner, Natalie Raffoul, and Senior Patent Counsel, Dennis Haszko, look forward to meeting with numerous IP colleagues from around the globe and on exchanging updates on IP practice globally. The Meeting is being held in Boston from May 18 to 22, 2019.

Bonne nouvelle! Une version française de notre site web!

Bonne nouvelle!  Puisque nous offrons tous nos services dans les deux langues officielles, nous avons maintenant une version française de notre site web.  Jetez-y un coup d’œil : https://bripgroup.com/fr/

Brion Raffoul supports Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa at 2nd Annual Charity Skiathon at Camp Fortune

Natalie Raffoul as a Campaign Cabinet Member helped the 2nd Annual Charity Skiathon double its net proceeds for the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa (BGCO).

The firm was also a proud Sponsor of the day and recruited other business leaders to join its ski team for a gorgeous day at Camp Fortune.

Over $150,000 was raised in one day(!) for the BGCO, an organization supporting Ottawa’s children and youth since 1923, by specializing in after school and weekend programs for kids aged 6 to 18.

To see some great local coverage of the event, please follow these links:

Ottawa Business Journal

Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s Patent Rules: Changes Coming!

By Stacey Dunn and Dominique Lambert

Recent implementation of the Patent Law Treaty has required Canada to update its Patent Rules. While the expected changes will modernize patent laws and their administration, patent owners should be mindful of some of the anticipated pitfalls.

Filing Dates

Under the new Rules, an Applicant can obtain a filing date by submitting: an indication that a Canadian patent is sought; the Applicant’s information; and a document describing the invention in any language. A translation of the invention description document into English or French and the filing fee may now follow at a later date.

Late translations and late filing fees do not apply to PCT national phase applications.

Furthermore, Applicants may now obtain a filing date on a holiday or on the weekend as electronic communications will be deemed received on the day they are submitted, even if the Patent Office is closed.

Priority Claims

If the priority claim requirements are not complied with, the priority claim will merely be disregarded rather than being deemed abandoned.

Priority documents now must be certified copies.

Certified copies of each priority document must be submitted or made available through an acceptable digital library. This requirement will not apply when the priority document is an earlier Canadian application or a national phase application that already satisfied its PCT priority document requirement.

Restoration of Priority Claim

The Office will now provide a two-month extension beyond the twelve-month period for claiming priority. Applicants may now file an application up to fourteen months from the earlier filed application and restore priority.

The two-month extension is available only if the delay was unintentional.

Streamlined Process for Amending an Application After Allowance

Applicants are no longer required to withhold paying the final fee to let an application go abandoned to re-enter examination. The new Rules allow for requesting a Notice of Allowance to be withdrawn, after which the Application re-enters Examination and the Application may be amended.

Timelines for responding to an Office Action or Notice of Allowance have been shortened to four months (from six), and the deadline for requesting examination has been shortened to four years (from five).

Notice Required from Patent Office Prior to Abandonment

Under the new Rules, an Application will not go abandoned for failure to pay maintenance fees or to request examination without prior notification of a deadline. A notice letter will be sent establishing a deadline of the later of six months from the missed deadline or two months from the notice date.

If a maintenance fee deadline is missed, the new deadline may not be known until the late notice has been issued by the Office.

42 Month Deadline for National Phase Entries is No Longer “As of Right”

The twelve-month deadline extension for entering national phase in Canada after the thirty-month deadline is not available “as of right”.

Late entries now require a statement that the failure to enter by the thirty-month deadline was unintentional.

While these changes are a step in the right direction for patent practice, Patent Applicants should be aware of the tightened timelines and additional requirements coming into force within the year.

If you have any questions regarding the new Rules, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

Natalie Raffoul to attend the Licensing Executive Society International (LESI) Winter Planning Meeting as Co-Chair of the Education Committee

Brion Raffoul’s Managing Partner, Natalie Raffoul, will be attending the Licensing Executive Society International (LESI) Winter Planning Meeting in Miami from January 25-27, 2019. Ms. Raffoul is Co-Chair of the Education Committee. The Winter Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for the global LES leadership to meet and plan the year ahead for the society and also learn from intellectual property licensing industry experts. The LESI will meet again for its Annual Meeting in May in Yokohama, Japan. https://www.lesi.org/events/2019-winter-planning-meeting

Natalie Raffoul to attend the 1st Asia Pacific YMC LES International Meeting in Hong Kong

Ms. Raffoul will be attending the 1st Asia Pacific Licensing Executive Society International Young Members Congress Meeting in Hong Kong on November 30th, 2018. Ms. Raffoul will be leading a panel of distinguished international speakers to discuss the challenges around managing international intellectual property disputes.  Natalie will  bring her perspective on managing IP disputes for her own clients where you have enforcement or defence issues arising on patent assets outside of Canada, particularly in the US or Europe.  Ms. Raffoul has been successful in settling numerous international patent and design infringement disputes on behalf of her Canadian and foreign clients.  

Natalie Raffoul to attend the IPBC Global Asia Meeting in Shanghai

Ms. Raffoul will be attending the IPBC Global Asia in Shanghai, China from December 2nd to 4th, 2018. Brion Raffoul is a sponsor of the 2018 Asia IP Elite Gala Dinner for celebrating inductees into IAM’s Asia IP Elite.  Ms. Raffoul will be announcing the recipient of the Electronics Team of the Year, among a shortlist of companies: Canon, DJI, Hon Hai, Maxell, and Panasonic. Stay tuned for the winning team!