Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Intellectual Property Decision-Making Manual (4 of 6)

5.0 Criteria for Decision Making

As noted previously, AAFC generates a wealth of scientific and technical knowledge, the utility and value of which determines how best to protect, manage and disseminate it. Responsible decisions must be taken from the time of the inception of the knowledge to the point when it is disseminated.

The decision making process outlined in this Manual involves the following five key steps:

  • Step 1: Identification - Does the activity give rise to some novel and creative knowledge that would constitute a new discovery, an invention or a technological innovation?

  • Step 2: Assessment - How can this knowledge/technology best be used to support the mandate of the department and the priorities of the government for the benefit of Canada?

  • Step 3: Protection - Based on the assessment conducted in Step 2, what options are available for protecting any ensuing intellectual property?

  • Step 4: Transfer - What is the most appropriate strategy for disseminating or transferring the IP?

  • Step 5: Implementation - What measures must be taken to implement and manage the transfer strategy outlined in Step 4? e.g., monitoring progress, identifying deviations from plan, maintaining proper records of transactions/sales and administering awards to inventors and innovators.

The most critical step in the process occurs when the knowledge is first created, and a decision must be made on how best to protect and utilize it for the benefit of Canadians. If the knowledge is to be used for developing policies or regulations, and/or for broad dissemination to the general public, it can be released in a report, a scientific or technical journal or through some other public venue (speech, presentation, website). Alternatively, if the knowledge has potential as an invention of commercial/industrial interest, then public disclosure could limit its protection and hamper future exploitation efforts. Once a determination has been made that the knowledge must be protected for the purpose of exploitation, it is important to determine the most appropriate protection strategy. For instance, a new advanced technology might require patent protection; a new plant variety can be protected under the Plant Breeders' Rights Act; while software or databases are protected by copyright.

The entire decision making process must involve the developers of the IP, their respective manager(s) and a Commercialization Officer from the OIPC to ensure that everyone is on side with the options being considered. Experts from AAFC Legal Services should be consulted for advice on matters relating to the protection, management and transfer of the IP. The following are some of the factors that will influence the decision making process:

  • What was the purpose of the activity?
    • to maintain or build a core competence
    • to broadly disseminate information
    • to provide policy/regulatory support
    • to fill a knowledge/technological gap
    • to develop a new plant variety
  • Who performed the activity? e.g., AAFC alone or in collaboration with
    • another government department
    • university
    • industry
    • non-governmental organization
    • international organization
  • What are the outputs from the activity?
    • report
    • publication
    • software
    • database
    • technology
  • Who are the primary beneficiaries of the activity?
    • AAFC and the Government of Canada
    • policy makers
    • industry
    • scientific community
    • general public
  • What is the most appropriate option for protecting the IP?
    • Copyright
    • Plant breeders' rights
    • Trademark/official mark
    • Patent
    • Trade secret
  • How can the IP be best deployed or exploited for the benefit of Canadians?
    • broad dissemination through reports, publications
    • presentations/speeches
    • commercialization, licensing