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Canadian Patent ruling locks out retired Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans from advancing Canada’s innovation nation
“Tech companies will simply mitigate the patent ownership risk by not hiring well qualified ex CAF or Royal Military College graduates in R&D jobs which in addition to creating an unnecessary obstacle for government sponsored job transition services for Veterans, also potentially deprives Canadian Corporations of a pool of talented individuals putting an unnecessary obstacle into advancing Canada as a competitive innovation nation.” (CATAAlliance)
Ottawa, ON .... CATAAlliance, Canada's One Voice for Innovation Group today launched an advocacy Campaign to challenge a recent court ruling that classifies CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) Veterans on a supplementary reserve as public servants even though they receive no compensation or benefits from the government for being on the list. Please review CBC News Coverage entitled, "Advocates call for action on veteran's patent case."
“Companies that have employed Veterans and reservists working full time in the private sector must now seek permission from the federal government before applying for a patent for their inventions if an inventor is on a supplementary reserve list,” said CATA CEO, John Reid, adding “That means any patent that has been issued and currently thought to be owned by a Canadian corporation where a named inventor is retired CAF on a supplementary reserve list may in fact be owned by the government.”
In order to mitigate the ownership risk in future patent applications, companies will have to disclose their invention to an appropriate Minister and await the government’s decision to either claim ownership or give approval to allow the application to proceed without the government’s ownership claim. Under the Act, failure to follow this procedure results in a $500 fine or six months imprisonment or both for every person who contravenes the Act.
Reid noted, “This is totally impractical. I can’t imagine that companies would be willing to disclose their confidential and time sensitive invention to the government and wait months for a decision when the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in contrast has adopted a first to file system. Many times applications are rushed because an invention is about to be disclosed at an industry conference. Any delay in this process will potentially harm the competitive position of Canadian companies in their respective markets.”
Unintended consequences for intellectual property (IP) holdings, hiring of Veterans and U.S./Canada patent filing attractiveness
CBC Investigative Journalist Reports:
Letter to Ministers from Military Veteran
NOR Environmental in North Bay is currently suing the Canadian Government for patent infringement. The Crown has chosen to fight the case rather than on its merits but on a loophole in the Public Servant Invention Act that has deemed the principal of NOR Louis Brown a “public servant” despite the fact that his patent was applied for 6 years after retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces. On Appeal the Federal Court agreed that Louis Brown was indeed a “public servant”.
The unintended consequences of this ruling impacts the IP holdings of Canadian enterprises.
It is now clear in law that retired CAF on a supplementary reserve list are considered public servants even though they get no compensation or benefits from the government for being on the list. (They are on the list for love of country to be called upon in case of emergency). This has created and will continue to create severe unintended consequences for companies who have employed or are considering employing retired CAF who are on supplementary reserve lists consider:
1) Any patent that has issued and currently thought to be owned by a Canadian company where a named inventor is retired CAF on a supplementary reserve list may in fact be owned by the government.
2) In litigation ownership standing could be challenged by any defendant where a patent owned by a Canadian company has a retired CAF on a supplementary reserve list as an inventor.
3) In order to mitigate the ownership risk in future patent applications, companies will have to disclose their invention to an appropriate Minister and await their decision to either claim ownership or give their approval to allow the application to proceed without their ownership claim. This is impractical for CATA members and puts us at a disadvantage to the USPTO first to file system where many times applications are rushed because an invention is about to be disclosed at an industry conference.
4) Tech companies will simply mitigate the patent ownership risk by not hiring well qualified ex CAF or Royal Military College graduates in R&D jobs which in addition to creating an unnecessary obstacle for government sponsored job transition services for veterans, also potentially deprives Canadian Corporations of a pool of talented individuals putting an unnecessary obstacle into advancing Canada as an innovation nation.
5) The security of our country is compromised if Veterans decide to mitigate the risk of being acceptable candidates to industry by requesting that their names be taken off the supplementary reserve list or by refusing to put their name on the list after retirement from the CAF.
Reid concluded, "It's going to be our veterans in theory that are going to loose. The concern is some veterans might already be in a catch-22 position where they have an employment contract signed with the corporation that has intellectual property clauses in it and they're now potentially compromised."
++ Action Item
MP and Community Mobilization
Please send electronically and/or print out and fax the Patent Infringement Advocacy Alert communiqué and follow up with a phone call to your local MP, media and network of contacts, inclusive of posting on your social media, in support of the communiqué. About CATAAlliance
Interact with your Innovation Peer Group Now http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Canadian-Advanced-Technology-Alliance-CATA-37239/about
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 firstname.lastname@example.org