A new policy brief from the Centre for International Governance Innovation, in Waterloo, Canada argues that Canada should pursue a weaker national patent regime. Acknowledging that Canada already has agreed to certain levels of protection through international treaties and trade agreements, Blit warns that future agreements that strengthen intellectual property protections would not benefit Canada. The paper is Optimal Patent Regimes in a Globalized World: Lessons for Canada, by Joel Blit, assistant professor of Economics at the University Of Waterloo, Ontario.

Patent protection regime

It explains that while patent protections theoretically contribute to the promotion of domestic innovation, less innovative countries, such as Canada, will not experience the same benefits as more innovative countries. Blit argues that as patent systems have become harmonised across the world, innovators can use national treatment provisions to patent their inventions in numerous countries. In Canada, the paper points out, 88.2 percent of the patent applications in 2014 were filed by foreign residents.

Blit argues that Canada’s patent regime has not contributed to domestic innovation, and therefore has not offset the potential welfare losses which strong IP rights may bring. It is countries which have the highest innovation intensity, Blitz says, which advocate for stringent IP protections beyond the level that would maximize global welfare.

In Canada’s case, the paper concludes, the high proportion of foreign patent applications means that Canadian consumers are subject to high prices associated with monopolies, but the economy does not receive incentives for domestic innovation in return.

International responsibility Canada’s

In Canada’s case, the paper concludes, the high proportion of foreign patent applications means that Canadian consumers are subject to high prices associated with monopolies, but the economy does not receive incentives for domestic innovation in return.

While acknowledging that Canada has international responsibilities as a World Trade Organization member country, Blit recommends that Canada avoid signing agreements in the future which strengthen its patent regime, and that officials develop policies which prevent the adoption of more stringent patent protections.