It was an enormous pleasure for me to participate in IP Osgoode’s “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Effective Strategies for IP Commercialization and Success” symposium on February 11. I’d like to thank all the volunteers, organizers, participants, fellow panelists and guests who made this experience so memorable for me and many others.
The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) made building IP awareness and education one of the key pillars of our Five Year Business Strategy 2017-2022. Through the program we established, we’ve been able to engage directly with partners with a keen interest in growing IP knowledge, and helping business use their IP more strategically. In particular, our IP Awareness and Education Program has made a point of reaching out to women entrepreneurs, who traditionally have been less likely to use IP, to help them become more IP savvy and give them tools for business success that flow from their IP.
Our work on awareness and education supports the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, as well as the National IP Strategy which was announced in April 2018. In last year’s budget, the Government also announced $85.3 million over five years to support the National IP Strategy. CIPO was very proud to have our IP Awareness and Education Program established as a foundational piece of the Strategy.
We don’t have all the answers today about why women entrepreneurs and innovators are somewhat underrepresented in terms of global IP filings. We know that in 2017, 31.2% of all applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) included women inventors, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s PCT Yearly Review. For PCT applications originating in Canada, the number is 24.8%. Of all inventors named in PCT applications, only 16.4% were women. Data we’ve compiled at CIPO suggests that women-owned businesses are disproportionately among those with no IP.
We can take meaningful steps today to help ensure that more women have a better understanding of IP and are able to use it strategically, to try to move the needle in a positive direction. That includes continuing efforts to increase IP literacy and the strategic use of IP by women entrepreneurs and scientists through targeted initiatives like those we have in our IP Awareness and Education Program at CIPO. The Empowering Women Entrepreneurs symposium is just one outstanding example of the ways we strive to keep the dialogue alive about IP and innovation among women.
The tools and resources we offer to support businesses and innovators are free and accessible, and available at Canada.ca/ip-for-business. They can help you learn about IP, from the basics of patents, trademarks and industrial designs, to more advanced topics for those further along on their IP journeys. We have a team of IP Advisors working in all the regions of Canada, who are there to answer questions and provide insight into IP strategies for businesses. And we’re adding more resources all the time to help Canadians get the IP knowledge they need to succeed.
We’re here to help! Reach out to CIPO any time you have questions about IP, and together we can continue to help women innovate, grow their businesses and succeed.
Written by Darlene Carreau, Director General, Business Services Branch at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.