Since December 2015, Darlene Carreau has been serving as the Director General of Business Services at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).
The Business Services Branch (BSB) is responsible for developing CIPO’s overall service strategy to deliver quality services that are timely, client-centric and help promote a culture of service management excellence throughout the organization. In addition, the branch is responsible for designing and delivering a suite of IP products, training tools and services to raise awareness among small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators to bolster innovation, competitiveness and long-term growth.
Previously Darlene was the chairperson of the Trademarks Opposition Board and from 2003 to 2008 was a legal counsel with the Department of Justice where she practiced trademark law and her primary responsibility was acting as trademark legal counsel to the Registrar of Trademarks and the Trademarks Opposition Board. From 1998 to 2003, she was a trademark associate lawyer in the Intellectual Property Group of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP.
Ms. Carreau received her LL.B from the University of Ottawa in 1996 and her B. Soc. Sc. from the University of Ottawa in 1993. She was called to the bar of the Province of Ontario in 1998. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and a registered trademark agent in Canada.
Q1 Why is it important that more women get involved in the IP system?
Women are still traditionally underrepresented in areas that rely heavily on IP. Most notably, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are heavy users of the patent system but have a striking disparity, where women make up only one third of graduates in this field. Getting women involved in the IP system will therefore encourage different voices, perspectives, and visions to contribute to large sectors of the Canadian economy that have traditionally lacked this type of diversity
In November 2017, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office published a report titled, “Women’s Participation in Patenting: An Analysis of PCT Applications Originating in Canada” which studies Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications filed under the PCT by Canadian applicants, and finds that Canada has seen little change in the share of inventors who are women in the last 15 years, while the world share continues to grow.
Data from Statistics Canada shows that the share of Canadian women engaged in patenting activity has been persistently lower than the share of jobs held by women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In other words, women’s low participation in PCT applications is not simply a pipeline problem associated with relatively low numbers of women in those fields.
Q2 Are there unique challenges that female inventors and entrepreneurs face?
The desire to encourage participation by women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is frequently discussed through the lens of STEM education. CIPO’s “Women’s Participation in Patenting” report contributes to our understanding of the progress made by Canadian women in STEM fields. Increasing the share of women graduating with STEM degrees is very helpful but does not necessarily reduce the barriers faced by women already working in those fields. Our analysis has shown that Canada’s share of participation by women in PCT applications cannot be explained simply by pointing to the low share of women in STEM jobs.
Q3 How can the innovation and IP ecosystems become more inclusive for under-represented groups, such as female entrepreneurs?
If women entrepreneurs are to become greater participants in the innovation economy, it is crucial that they have fair access to the entire suite of business innovation programming and that meets their particular needs.
Q4 What types of assistance will benefit female entrepreneurs?
We know that business growth, scale-up, innovation and global competitiveness is often inhibited by underdeveloped or non-existent IP commercialization strategies amongst businesses, generally.
Failure of SMEs to develop robust IP strategies is due to weak IP literacy amongst Canadian innovators, and their inability to access affordable and timely IP services.
CIPO has worked in collaboration and partnership to enhance its IP Awareness and Education program to increase IP literacy in Canada and ensure easier access to IP services which is crucial in assisting with the growth of Canada’s innovation ecosystem.
We have executed a comprehensive approach to engage partners to collectively address the gap within Canada’s entrepreneurial support system for neutral, credible and trusted sources of IP information and guidance for innovators and Canadian companies and for women entrepreneurs specifically.
The program offers a wide range of products and services that enables Canadian businesses in all stages of the business life cycle and in key sectors and industries across Canada to be aware of and understand IP and to make effective use of it in achieving business growth and success.
We are committed to providing better access to IP information and services. It is this type of access that will ultimately benefit female entrepreneurs and help increase their IP literacy which will enable them to make strategic decisions with regards to managing their IP.