By way of the Politique nationale de la recherche et de l’innovation (National Policy on Research and Innovation), the Québec government introduced a program named Premier brevet (First Patent) which is designed to offer financial and technical assistance to small businesses in seeking patent protection in Canada for innovations that may otherwise have gone unprotected.
Preliminary descriptions of the program indicate that it may cover certain costs related to:
- Prior art searches used to determine the state of the art and assess patentability of an innovation;
- Freedom to operate opinions; - Patent application filing fees in Canada and abroad;
- Professional fees relating to drafting and prosecution of the patent application;
- Certain activities related to the use of the innovation once a patent issues.
This is a very smart move by the Québec government seeking to encourage both foreign and local investment in Québec companies in order to stimulate the growth of its knowledge-based economy. When conducting their due diligence prior to making investments, one of the first things investors will typically want to see is proof that a company has taken steps to secure patent protection for the products, processes and systems used by that company.
Oftentimes, the first filings by an SME are done on the cheap. The costs associated with drafting a complete and robust patent application are not insignificant, an SME often doesn’t have the resources to invest in such a drafting exercise. This can lead to complications down the road, and potentially the loss of patent rights if litigation arises.
Help from the Québec government in offsetting the costs associated with drafting and filing patent applications will allow Québec SMEs to engage the help of professionals and as a result will result in more complete and robust patent applications. This will lead to better and stronger patent rights. And when an investor reviews such patent applications, they will likely appreciate the quality of a properly drafted patent application and may be more likely to lay down such investments.
For more information (in French) see: