Technology is a worldwide competitive landscape, and the competition to get market share is fierce. To attract resources and differentiate a company in customers’ eyes, intellectual property (IP) has become a critical success factor, affecting all business aspects from R&D, marketing and sales to HR, Accounting, Investment and more. That said, tech startups should have, at the very least, a basic understanding of the threats and opportunities that IP presents. IP’s seemingly complex, daunting process often stands in the way of this understanding.
Thankfully, Spark Centre has partnered with Invest Ottawa and Launch Lab to deliver the IP Assist program, a staged approach designed to support early-stage and growing companies in Durham Region and Eastern Ontario in developing their IP strategies and providing the guidance they need.
In our opinion, there’s no one better to provide guidance in IP than our Elite Partner: award-winning, full-service intellectual property firm Bereskin & Parr LLP. One of the largest IP firms in Canada, Bereskin & Parr serves clients worldwide and across all industries — from medical devices, life sciences, and AI to cleantech, electrical and computer technology, fintech and more — with professionals that are experienced in patents, trademarks, copyright and digital media, licencing and transactions, IP litigation and more.
The IP Assist program is structured into two steps: IP Education and Awareness and an IP Landscape Brief. In the IP Education and Awareness stage, tech companies have access to a two-hour free consultation with Bereskin & Parr to understand IP and how their innovations can be transformed into valuable assets.
During the IP Landscape Brief stage, tech companies receive information on the IP and competitive landscape for their technology. The brief can include information on companies that the startup will be competing with for market share, IP rights that the competitors are pursuing or have obtained, as well as scientific or tech trends and more.
“A startup can use this information to decide on their technology development and business practices,” says Tony Orsi, Partner with Bereskin & Parr and Spark Centre’s IP advisor, “This helps them to identify technology and market opportunities and potential partners for collaboration while increasing their ability to successfully pursue IP rights and reduce the risk of IP infringement.”
In addition to these two steps, tech companies have access to an additional three hours of free consultation with Tony Orsi, Meghan Dillon, Noel Courage, Toba Cooper and other B&P professionals. Tony is a patent agent and partner with Bereskin & Parr and co-leader of the firm’s Fintech practice group and a member of the firm’s Electrical and Computer Technology group. With a focus on patents with an emphasis on electrical, biomedical, software, fintech, cleantech and mechanical innovations, Tony also assists clients with evaluating new technologies, providing strategic IP management services and developing in-house IP programs.
“This is a team effort between Bereskin & Parr and Spark Centre.”
“This is a team effort between Bereskin & Parr and Spark Centre,” he says, “I think the most important thing for startups to understand is how different types of IP can help them achieve their business goals and understanding best practices in IP so that they can not only pursue IP rights for what they are creating but also to reduce risk and avoid infringing on the IP rights of others.
To take part, tech companies apply online and, upon approval of their application, pay a mere $250 administration fee. In return, they receive services worth a whopping $10,000. For early-stage and growing tech companies, it’s a small investment with a huge reward.
“The IP assist program has been put in place to provide funding so that startups can learn about the different types of IP rights, determine the IP rights that apply to their business, put together an IP strategy that aligns with their business strategy, and take concrete steps in implementing their IP strategy.” Tony adds, “This program is also a good opportunity for startups to engage with NRC, which may have other programs that can aid the startup with technology development.