IP and the digital economy in the Federal Budget

The Minister of Finance tabled the Government of Canada’s budget earlier today. Titled, The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities, the budget contained a few proposed plans related to intellectual property and the digital economy.

The Economic Action Plan proposes to modernize Canada’s intellectual property framework “to better align it with international practices.” These plans which had previoulsy been announced were described as follows:

Canada’s existing framework for protecting intellectual property is not aligned with international practices, creating unnecessary costs for our innovative businesses. Harmonizing Canada’s intellectual property regime with international norms will help Canada’s innovative businesses access international markets, lower costs and draw foreign investment to Canada by reducing the regulatory burden and red tape faced by businesses.

Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to modernize Canada’s intellectual property framework by ratifying or acceding to the following widely recognized international treaties: the Madrid Protocol, the Singapore Treaty, the Nice Agreement, the Patent Law Treaty and the Hague Agreement. The Government has tabled these treaties in Parliament and will propose the required legislative amendments to the Patent Act, the Trade-marks Act and the Industrial Design Act. The benefits expected for Canadian businesses from these reforms are significant. For example, accession to the trade-mark treaties will make it possible for a company to obtain protection for trade-marks in a number of countries through a single international application filed in one language, in one currency, with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization, reducing paperwork and business costs.

Amendments will also be introduced to the Trade-marks Act to establish that the responsibilities of the Commissioner of Patents and Registrar of Trade-marks reside with a single individual.

The plan also contains a proposal to modernize the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act.

To continue supporting innovation and competitiveness in Canada’s agricultural sector, the Government has introduced the Agricultural Growth Act. The Act will enhance trade opportunities and the safety of agricultural products, reduce red tape and contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth. The legislation will also amend the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act to align it with the 1991 Convention of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91). Stronger intellectual property rights for plant breeders will encourage investment in Canadian research and development, improving access to new and innovative seed varieties for Canadian farmers. The new legislation includes Farmers’ Privilege, allowing farmers to continue to save and reuse seeds for replanting on their own farms.

The Government also proposes to provide ongoing funding of $9 million per year for the Canada Book Fund and ongoing funding of $8.8 million per year for the Canada Music Fund.

In doing a search of the budget, I was not able to find any reference to the term “digital strategy”. There were a few items proposed to promote the digital economy:

  • Renewing the Computers for Schools Program
  • Support for an Open Data initiative that would make available information by govenrment for use by the public.
  • Improving Access to Broadband in Rural and Northern Communities
  • Provide ongoing funding of $4.2 million per year for the Virtual Museum of Canada and $1.2 million per year for the Online Works of Reference
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