Innovation in the 2017 federal budget – all talk, no action
March 22, 2017
The Canadian federal government released its 2017 budget on March 22, 2017. It was billed in pre-budget leaks as the “innovation” budget. Since coming to power in 2015, the current Liberal government has been fond of using the word “innovation” as often as possible in its policy statements and marketing. They even renamed the Ministry of Industry as the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. So, true to expectations, the budget plan itself uses the term “innovation” a remarkable 262 times.
Despite all this talk of fostering innovation and the need to ensure commercial success of start-ups, there is almost no mention of intellectual property or patent policy. There is no mention of the expected “patent box” or any other actual policies or programs to encourage Canadian innovators to secure their IP rights. The only real discussion of IP or the IP system notes its importance and promises that the government will try to develop a new intellectual property strategy. It states, in its entirety:
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY STRATEGY 2017
Canada’s intellectual property regime provides a framework that supports innovation across all sectors of the economy. Intellectual property rights incentivize creativity and the development of new ideas and technologies by helping companies, academics and inventors recoup their investment once new products reach the marketplace.
In recognition of the importance of a well-functioning intellectual property regime, Budget 2017 announces the Government will develop a new intellectual property strategy over the coming year. The strategy will help ensure that Canada’s intellectual property regime is modern and robust and supports Canadian innovations in the 21st century.
As with many promises of developing a “new national (fill-in-the-blank) strategy”, the promise of a new IP strategy is easy to make, and useful mostly for kicking a challenge down the road. After a year and a half of touting its commitment to “innovation”, the government does not have a single IP-related policy or program to propose other than further study. All this talk of commitment to “innovation” is starting to sound a little hollow.