IP Osgoode is delighted to congratulate Professor David Vaver on being inducted into the Order of Canada. Professor Vaver was acknowledged, on the eve of Canada Day on July 1, “for his leadership in intellectual property law as a scholar and mentor”.
The Order of Canada, presented by Governor General David Johnston, is one of our country’s highest civilian honours. Established in 1967, the award is granted to people “whose achievements are exceptional, who have performed outstanding acts of bravery, or who have benefited Canada or humanity in general.” Over the past 49 years, more than 6,500 people from diverse areas of society have been inducted into the Order.
I have been fortunate to know Professor Vaver since he was my law school professor in 1997 at Osgoode and have since worked with him as my doctoral supervisor at the University of Oxford, as my colleague back at Osgoode, and as my co-author, collaborator and friend.
Professor Vaver has devoted his life to achieve eminence in his teaching, scholarship and public service work in Canada. He is among Canada’s foremost leading authorities of Intellectual Property Law (he taught for over 20 years in Canada at the University of British Columbia and at Osgoode Hall Law School). He is not only admired for his work domestically, but is internationally renowned. He was recruited to found and head the University of Oxford’s prestigious Oxford Intellectual Property Program as the Reuters Professor of Intellectual Property & Information Law and during his tenure in Oxford continued to make remarkable contributions to Canada. Upon his retirement from Oxford, he was courted back to Canada to take up the Professorship in Intellectual Property Law at Osgoode. He continues to teach and serve as a leading member of IP Osgoode as well as mentor a myriad of students and actively engage in the community.
Professor Vaver is a visionary and his work has had an astonishing influence on the Canadian legal world and, ultimately, on that of the Canadian public on so many levels. The recent succession of copyright cases at the Supreme Court of Canada, dubbed the copyright “pentalogy” heavily relied on his writings. Now classics in academic literature and regularly drawn on for analysis and debate, his works are evidence-based, first rate and accessible and easy to read for the non-expert. His overwhelming influence on the academy led to scholars from around the world to honour him with their own contributions in a festschrift in 2010, The Common Law of Intellectual Property: Essays in Honour of Professor David Vaver (an honour that has not been bestowed on many). He has depth and breadth across all areas of intellectual property, and other areas of the law (including contracts and commercial law). This cross-sectoral ease is more and more crucial as areas of the law cannot be seen in silos. His book on Intellectual Property Law first demonstrated this methodology by approaching the remedies and management of all areas of intellectual property (patents, trademarks and copyright) in unison and not in distinct categories as often done in many other treatises. This advance, to eliminate duplication in the protection of rights, has influenced the teaching and learning of intellectual property, as well as the judicial interpretation of disputes, forming influential precedents. All in all, Professor Vaver’s scholarship aims to improve fairness and access to justice in the legal system, where increasingly the average Canadian citizen is disenfranchised and unclear of his or her rights.
Perhaps his scholarship on “user rights” in copyright law has spearheaded the most revolutionary change in Canada culminating copyright reform and ultimate modifications to consumer behaviour and knowledge of their rights. In particular Professor Vaver’s coining of the phrase, “user rights” in his book Copyright Law, has transformed the international vernacular and perspective of balance in copyright, where users enjoy rights alongside copyright’s traditional stakeholders of owners and authors. The Supreme Court of Canada first embraced this user-centric approach in the 2004 seminal CCH v LSUC decision (where a legal publisher sued the Law Society of Upper Canada for photocopying court decisions and other legal materials). In turn, this case adopted a Vaver-inspired solution which reverberated across the globe and has since been implemented by many copyright reform initiatives and practices not only in Canada but abroad. This breakthrough led to the last sweep of copyright reforms with the Copyright Modernization Act (2012). Scholars everywhere, myself included, have written on the far-reaching impact of adopting a user-centric approach in copyright law for fair dealing and so many other areas of the law and society. Because of Professor Vaver catalyzing this change in our legal vernacular, Canada now enjoys a more balanced and inclusive copyright law for all stakeholders, especially the public at large. Here I should mention that Professor Vaver’s scholarship repeatedly celebrates the public, and insists, it, to be the most important stakeholder. It should come as no surprise then that his work is commended by academia, the judiciary and the government.
Students (and many academics) line up for his classes and mentorship. His teaching is innovative and centred on furthering what is in the public interest (it was Professor Vaver who first pointed out the difference of what is in and what is of the public interest). He trail-blazed new courses at the University of British Columbia and at Osgoode, several of which involve designing new intellectual property laws for Canada; built up enviable libraries to house leading intellectual property publications for the benefit of Osgoode faculty, students and the public, and while in Oxford, ensured Canadian books were included in the collections. In 2012, he was Awarded the Pattishall medal for Teaching Excellence for Trademark and Trade Identity. It is a significant award that only begins to recognize the vastness of his contributions.
He founded and served as Editor-in-Chief, for the Intellectual Property Journal (1984-98, 2010-2015) and has regularly advised the Canadian government in various roles typically culminating in a roadmap for reform, or outright reform, in various areas of intellectual property.
IP Osgoode and Osgoode Hall Law School are privileged to call one of IP law’s luminaries as its own. As I stated in the acknowledgements to my doctoral dissertation some time ago (drawing from a phrase the celebrated poet TS Eliot said of his predecessor poet, Ezra Pound), Professor Vaver is the miglior fabbro (the best artisan). Congratulations Professore!
Giuseppina D’Agostino is the Founder & Director of IP Osgoode, the IP Intensive Program, and the Innovation Clinic, the Editor-in-Chief for the IPilogue and the Intellectual Property Journal, and an Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School.