April 20, 2017

A Canadian Version of the Patent Box: Will Canada say yes, or risk falling further behind in its innovation and competitive rankings? Updated!


Adoption of Innovation Box would accelerate Intellectual Property (IP) exploitation and commercialization success rates in Canada

Ottawa, ON… CATAAlliance, Canada’s one voice for innovation lobby group, has launched an Advocacy Campaign to encourage the adoption of a Canadian form of the “Patent Box”, i.e., an “Innovation Box”. The Canadian “Innovation Box” would be tailored to provide a preferential, competitive tax regime for the successful exploitation and commercialization of Intellectual Property (IP), including patents, in Canada.

The Innovation Box Campaign took the form of a “Live Brief” tabled on April 4, 2013 with updates continually posted based on the expert guidance of thought leaders across Canada.

“Governments across the globe are looking at how to adopt tax incentive regimes that will encourage companies to locate, exploit and commercialize technologies in their jurisdictions. Our consultations demonstrate that action is likewise needed to eliminate Canada’s ‘Commercialization Gap,‘” said CATA President John Reid.

He added, “Canadians are eminent innovators but we have a poor record for fully reaping the benefits of our investments in innovation. The Federal Government has it right in the 2012 Budget which acknowledged that the challenge is our failure to commercialize our innovations – not our failure to innovate. It is time to do something. An Innovation Box tailored for Canada fits the bill. It would reduce the tax rate on income arising from the exploitation and commercialization of IP at home.”

For a copy of CATA’s take on the 2012 federal budget “as a work in progress” and the importance of addressing the Commercialization Gap, please review:

Russ Roberts, CATA’s Sr. VP, Tax, Finance and Advocacy spoke to the dimensions of this issue in a recent CATAnet TV video interview.

Adoption of the Innovation Box to Bridge the Gap

“Patent Boxes” have been adopted by countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Luxembourg, the UK, China and Spain. A main driver for the UK Patent Box is to incent companies to keep their IP in the UK. And, now, a patent box is actively being considered in the U.S. as part of their drive to regain economic hegemony.

The reference to “Box” comes from the check boxes on tax returns which indicate that specific types of expenses or revenues are being claimed. The term “Patent Box” or “Innovation Box” refers to the preferential treatment of income associated with the development, exploitation and commercialization of IP in the home country. Each country shapes what is included for preferential treatment and how it is treated to reflect what is believed to provide the best return for the country.”

CATA’s Senior Vice President, Tax, Finance and Advocacy Russ Roberts noted, “In the case of the Netherlands, officials took further steps to make it even more attractive than the Boxes in most countries. They adopted a wider “Innovation Box” that included a broader class of IP with no limit on income inclusion. That translates to an effective tax rate of five percent or the lowest rate available.”

Roberts added, “The benefits offered by a carefully designed Innovation Box would be to encourage companies to base their R&D activities in Canada and to commercialize them here. This rebalancing of the federal tax regime would result in more scientific and high tech IP being commercialized and based in Canada. It would help us advance our place as a world leader in the successful exploitation of technologies to their fullest.”

“Additional rebalancing of the tax regime”, he noted, “would be important in effectively meshing other tax policies so that they complement the goals of the Innovation Box. For example, the foreign affiliate rules currently incent Canadian companies to locate income from IP in low tax jurisdictions rather than in Canada. An Innovation Box could be useful in keeping economic activity associated with developing, acquiring and commercializing technology onshore rather than going offshore. It could provide better balance.”

Mr. Reid noted that “Rather than leading with new concepts and approaches such as Innovation Boxes and Crowdfunding, Canada seems to be behind the curve. We are imperiling our Innovation future and risk continuing to squander our creative investments in R&D and intellectual capital. This is all because of a failure to effectively address the Commercialization Gap and go one step better than the practices of our trading partners who intend to fully benefit from their investments.”

“As suggested by the C.D. Howe Institute, with the increase in global tax incentives for the commercialization of R&D, Canada needs to consider improvements to the tax treatment of IP that is commercialized here to remain globally competitive.”

The Advocacy Campaign, known as the “Innovation Box Campaign”, forms an integral part of the industry’s Competitive Innovation Nation program, a program, under the tutelage of Canada’s leading entrepreneur, Sir Terence Matthews, that lays out what we must do as a nation to move us from a 13th place ranking to first place in innovation rankings.

PwC Tax Partner & Canadian Leader PwC SR&ED Tax Practice, Vik Sachdev interviews PwC Tax Partner & Leader of PwC Canadian National Tax Services, Nick Pantaleo, on the adoption of a Patent or Innovation Box.View the interview of Vik Sachdev, Innovation Box Advocacy Campaign champion and PwC’s National SR&ED Leader, with Nick Pantaleo, PwC’s Canadian National Tax Services Leader, on international initiatives and the challenge of creating an effective “Box” for Canada.

Vik Sachdev concludes:

The Key is how to keep IP at home and commercialize it. Our foreign affiliate rules are not neutral with respect to taxation of IP income taxed in Canada vs. IP income taxed in a low tax jurisdiction and then brought back to Canada tax free. One approach is lower corporate tax rates – starting with low tax rates on income derived from Canadian developed IP.

If Canada is to become a Competitive Innovation Nation, we’ve got to do a better job of supporting, growing and retaining our high tech companies and the people that power them.


MP and Community Mobilization
Please send electronically and/or print out and fax the Innovation Box Advocacy communiqué and follow up with a phone call to your local MP, media and network of contacts, including posting on your social media.

Please copy us on your correspondence, to jreid@cata.ca with “Innovation Box Campaign” in the subject line. You can download a copy of PwC’s White Paperon the subject.

cataimageAbout CATAAlliance

Interact with your Innovation Peer Group Now https://www.linkedin.com/groups/37239/

The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance) is Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group, crowdsourcing ideas and guidance from thousands of opt in members in moderated social networks in Canada and key global markets. (No Tech Firm Left Behind)

Contact: CATA CEO, John Reid at jreid@cata.ca