Mark Kohras is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School.
On Thursday February 3, 2011, Ontario’s Minister of Research and Innovation, Glen Murray, announced the launch of Venture Lab at the Markham Convergence Centre (MCC) as a part of the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE). Venture Lab is designed to bring together partners in academics, industry and government to help foster innovation in York Region. As part of the Provincial ONE network, Venture Lab will provide entrepreneurs access to researchers, academics, investors, business and legal expertise needed to help market an innovative idea and grow a business.
Venture Lab was created as a response to Ontario’s shift towards a knowledge-based economy. “When I was born in 1957… two thirds of us made things for a living. We were a manufacturing industrial economy,” said Minister Murray. “Today that doesn’t exist. People move around the world. Capital is moved around in split seconds. Eighty percent of the jobs that are being created in the recovery are knowledge jobs. People don’t make anything. They imagine, perform, finance, discover, engineer, research, manage… but they don’t make stuff.”
In 2008-2009, Ontario’s local innovation centres (of which Venture Lab is now a part of) helped Ontario entrepreneurs and companies protect over 1,300 new ideas through patents and copyrights. In the past year, Canadian companies and individual inventors registered a record 5,223 patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, up twenty percent from the year previous. This trend shows the increasing priority Canada is placing on its research and innovation initiatives.
From a legal perspective, all of this highlights the importance of an area of law that has been generating an increasing amount of attention recently: Intellectual Property. In a knowledge-based economy, intellectual property is the driving force that enables such an economy to flourish. It is an essential part of many successful businesses. It is the patent that protects the product that they sell. It is the copyright that rewards their creative efforts. It is the trademark that protects and markets their goodwill. It enables companies to commercialise today’s innovations and creativity while at the same time ensuring the growth of our society as a whole, fostering more innovation and creativity in the future.
Intellectual property lawyers will have an increasingly important role in a knowledge-based economy. Knowledge-based companies, where most of their net worth is tied up in intellectual property, are becoming increasingly more prevalent. Intellectual property lawyers will be needed to help with the commercialization of those assets. The new economy will see us working to enable companies to market, sell and protect their goods and services through the use of intellectual property and as such will be an expanding field of law in the years to come.
For more information on Venture lab and other Ontario research initiatives, please see the Ministry of Research and Innovation website.