Earlier this year, we shared an announcement that the Government of Canada was committing over $95 million over the next 5 years to support businesses looking to develop and protect their intellectual property. One of the ways it is doing this is through the launch of the IP Assist initiative. We’ll tell you why this has us excited, what this can to do bolster both your IP strategy and your bottom line, and how you can take advantage.

    How to Find Extra Dollars for Your IP Budget

    A new government funding initiative can benefit SMEs looking for a comprehensive IP strategy

    Our IP strategy experts have seen firsthand how improper strategies for handling your intellectual property can leave your IP assets vulnerable and your IP rights at risk.

    If there is anything we’ve learned from our 10+ years in the industry, it’s that IP can be overwhelming for those not familiar with the jargon and that costs can quickly add up (especially if you do not have a cohesive strategy to guide your spending).

    What this means for SMEs who don’t have the deep pockets of larger corporations is that they may struggle with deciding how to implement a strategy that will protect their interests appropriately without going over budget. This could mean that they don’t spend on foreign filings or forgo the expertise of IP specialists who can build a budget and strategy that meets their business objectives.


    What is IP Assist?

    This is where the government’s earmarking of that $95 million has us excited. As part of this commitment, NRC IRAP has launched IP Assist, an initiative aimed at Canadian small and medium sized businesses to deliver support services (including financial support) for the development of a comprehensive IP strategy.

    Delivered through 3 levels, the program aims to make IP strategy accessible to all by providing access and expertise that may have been out of reach otherwise by facilitating connection to a network of experts and by subsiding the cost of eligible IP services:

    • Level 1: IP Education & Awareness: Tech firms have access to a 2-hour consultation to learn about all the elements of IP that will impact their businesses.
    • Level 2: IP Strategy: Tech firms receive a grant towards the creation of an IP strategy, which may include a gap analysis and other initial IP considerations.
    • Level 3: IP Creation: Tech firms receive a grant towards the creation of IP, which may include trademark clearances, IP landscape analysis, prior art search & analysis, patentability analysis, IP audits, Out-licensing strategy development, and review of trademark & branding strategies.

    Through these levels, the program aims at increasing the business value by having proper IP protection covering all the different types of IP. It also reduces risks related to IP by increasing awareness and knowledge.


    Is my organization eligible?

    The program is aimed at Canadian small and medium sized businesses, who can apply through IRAP which is facilitating the program. Approved applicants are eligible for up to 75% reimbursement through IP Assist.


    I already have an IP strategy – can I still take advantage?


    We’ve had several SMEs reach out to us to ask how they can take advantage of this funding since the announcement was made.

    The best way to do this is to get an expert opinion on the current state of your IP strategy; someone who can be objective and ask the right questions with the intention of identifying gaps and/or potential risks and providing recommendations for best practices.

    The foundation of a pragmatic and proactive strategy is understanding how your intellectual property can be used to support your business objectives.

    With that in mind, Stratford offers an IP Strategy Review, where one of our experts will sit down with your leadership team to understand your current and future business strategy, review your current IP strategy practices and your existing portfolio of patents, trademarks, trade secrets, industrials designs, copyrights, partnerships, and open-source software usage.

    The resulting report is a list of actionable recommendations, based on our years of experience, on how to improve your existing IP strategy that is customized to your current business stage and objectives. We present our findings in a tangible report that can be shared with investors, board members, or shareholders to demonstrate your commitment to protecting your IP assets and measure success.

    Qualifying businesses are eligible to offset the cost of the IP Strategy Review through the IRAP IP Assist program.


    Then what?

    Although the program does not cover drafting and prosecution of patent applications, it provides the executive team with great insights on:

    • Potential value of IP
    • How to develop a culture of respect for IP and prevent inadvertent disclosures
    • Trade-offs between using patent versus trade secret protection and how to decide when it is advantageous to use either type
    • Strategies for filing patent applications to optimize cost
    • How to handle open-source software copyright issues
    • Strategies on how to protect the brand

    …and much more.

    If you have questions about our IP Strategy Review or your eligibility for IP Assist, please reach out to one of our IP Experts to discuss your options.