3. What are the pre-requisites to commercialization of IP generated by research institutions?
In order for research institutions to be able to support the innovation ecosystem, many have adopted transparent and easy to understand IP policies so that there is clarity about who owns the IP and what rights everyone engaged in the creation and/or use of that IP has.
In Canada, unlike in the United States (where IP policies are set through Federal legislation) each research institution can decide upon which form of IP policy it wants to adopt.
In Canada, there are three common types of IP policies.
For our purposes, we will focus on those aspects of IP policies that cover inventions and patents, recognizing most of them encompass all forms of IP:
- First there is the “inventor owned” policy whereby the researcher owns the patent rights in respect of the inventions which have arisen through the use of institutional resources.
- Then there is the “institutional owned” policy where the institution owns the patent rights in respect of the inventions which arise through the use of institutional resources. It should be noted that while under these policies the university owns the rights, many universities will nonetheless share some percentage of commercialisation proceeds with the inventors.
- And then there is the “jointly-owned” policy which is the combination of the university -owned policy and inventor owned policy in which the ownership is jointly assigned to the inventor and the institution.
While it might be desirable to have a harmonized IP policy across all Canadian research institutions, there is no “one size fits all answer” and each situation will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.