Did you know carbontech innovation is helping Canada achieve net zero goals?

Did you know carbontech innovation is helping Canada achieve net zero goals?

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Tim:                 There are some things that  can be barriers to your development of your   technology and the success of your company,  but if you have a proactive strategy that's   based on trying to protect your commercial  opportunities, and you take the right steps   to make sure that there aren't inadvertent  exposures or disclosures of your technology   as you work towards potentially building a patent  portfolio, as long as you take proactive steps and   understand that those things take resources to  try and implement those strategies, go get 'em. Introduction:    Welcome to Cleantech Forward,  a Foresight podcast, where we explore cleantech   customer's capital and Canada's path to net  zero. Tune in to learn more about Canada's   most exciting cleantech startups, industry  success stories, investor insights and   academic initiatives as we accelerate the  growth and impact of cleantech, together.

Jeannette:       Welcome to Cleantech  Forward. I'm Jeanette Jackson,   CEO of Foresight Canada. Today I'm talking to  Tim Bailey, partner at Gowling WLG and head   of the firm's Intellectual Property group  in Calgary. Tim and I discuss the state of   carbontech innovation in Canada, what tools  are available that can enable entrepreneurs   to grow their businesses faster and how  this will impact the sector as a whole.

This Cleantech Forward podcast is supported by  Gowling WLG. A global leader in intellectual   property law, Gowling WLG works alongside  Canadian cleantech companies to develop   IP strategies that maximize business  opportunities and increase market share,   while protecting valuable innovation. From  idea to investment, to international expansion,   Gowling WLG understands the potential of your  intellectual property at every stage of growth.  

Visit gowlingwlg.com/cleantech to learn  how they can support your business today. I am joined today by Tim Bailey, coming  onto Cleantech Forward to discuss carbontech   innovation in Canada and what can be done to  enable entrepreneurs and innovators to grow   their businesses. If you're not familiar  with Tim, he is part of Gowling WLG,   which is a full service international law firm.  They have a particular top tier and international   intellectual property practice and are sponsors of  Cleantech Forward. Tim has been part of Gowlings   for several years in the Calgary office and  specializes in representing high tech oil and gas,   cleantech pharmaceutical and bio technology  clients. Tim, welcome to Cleantech Forward.

Tim:                 Thanks very much for  having me. I appreciate you guys giving   us the opportunity to chat about this  really interesting and important topic. Jeannette:       Before we dig into  everything carbontech, I want to help   the audience get to know you a little bit.  Who is Tim? What gets him up every morning?   What fills your time on weekends? What sort  of special hobbies and interest do you have? Tim:                 Okay, great. So Tim wears two  hats in life. One is the professional hat and then   the other, like may other people, is I'm a family  man. I have a wife and I have two young children,  

6 and 9, and so a lot of my free time is  dedicated towards trying to help my wife   with the way our life is organized, which  is quite busy, as it is for a lot of people   with young kids. The other hat I wear is my  professional hat. So I am, as you mentioned,   I'm a lawyer. I'm also a patent agent and a  trademark agent. My practice focuses on technology   in general. As you mentioned, Jeannette, I'm in  the Calgary office and here I'm the head of the   IP group and my practice really focuses on a  couple of buckets of types of work. One is as  

a lawyer. I spend a fair amount of my time  helping my clients, whether it's a startup,   a mid-size company or a large publicly traded  company, help them figure out what their contracts   and price and obligations are with respect  to other parties that they're in commercial   relationships with. So licencing, collaboration  agreements, that type of stuff. As a patent agent   you mentioned some of the areas of industry that  I work in, oil and gas and bio tech, is kind of   a broad spectrum of different industries that I  work in. In the last few years  really been trying   to focus on getting more involved in the carbon  / green tech industry. So when I wear my patent   agent hat it's drafting patents, applications  for clients and helping them create a global   strategy for protecting their technology and the  commercial opportunities that technology embodies. Jeannette:       Incredible. As your kids  get older and you start to see some of the  

indicators of climate change, does that get  you more passionate about the cleantech space? Tim:                 Oh absolutely. Just an  anecdotal story. There's a client that I'm   working with now, who would fall within  the startup category of clients, and   initially he had selected another firm to work  other than ours. I took it upon myself to send him   a note and just say, best of luck. Very interested  in your technology and, as a parent, very keenly   interested to see how your technology develops  because that particular client has a technology   that I think could have a great impact on some  of the topics we're going to talk about today,   and yeah it is because my kids, I don't have  grandkids because my children are too small or too   young, but ultimately there is a greater sense of  responsibility and stewardship that I don't know   that we've been taking as seriously, as the human  population, being taken seriously as we should. Jeannette:       Absolutely. Building  on this let's dig into a little bit more  

about your connection to carbontech and how  you developed an interest in this sector. Tim:                 Sure. I think  it's helpful always to, in my view,   start putting up some boundaries around this  discussion. So what do we mean by carbontech?   What I mean about carbontech, I think, are trying  to find technologies, applications of technology,   that help address the anthropogenic carbon content  within our atmosphere. The assumption is that as   CO2 levels rise, that CO2 acts as a greenhouse  gas amongst other gases, and that's causing the   climate change crisis. Which is now becoming  more and more evident with increased wildfires,   the fracturing and breakup of the Artic  caps, both in the North and South Poles,   and in various parts of the world they're under  threat of increased sea levels. So this is a very  

serious global issue that we need to address.  So when we put a box around carbontech as being   the technology directly trying to decrease  those carbon levels, then there's a variety   of different ways that that can be done. So that  can be done by trying to decrease the amount of   carbon dioxide that humans create. That can be  done by trying to capture the carbon dioxide  

that's already in the air, and that can be done by  doing some sort of selective agriculture, so as to   increase the uptake by certain plant species.  That can also be done by various techniques by   trying to use algae in the ocean. That can be done  by specific chemistry applications. I think that   all of that stuff together will ultimately, my  hope is, will ultimately lead to decreasing the   actual content of CO2 in the atmosphere, but  also along with that will be the technologies   that are directed at decreasing the amount of  CO2 by some of the major industries related   to CO2 productions. So oil and gas industry,  concrete industry, those types of industries  

they are also taking very active parts in trying  to modify and refine their processes to decrease   that CO2 release at the source. So my interest,  again, comes back to our previous discussion which   was it has to do with our planet, it has to do  with my kids and my family, and having a feeling,   a sense that we're starting to go in the right  direction to start to hopefully decrease the   amount of CO2, and decrease the amount of CO2  by decreasing production and increasing the   technology and capabilities to capture back  the CO2 that's already in the atmosphere. Jeannette:       Yeah, we've been a big fan of  supporting industrial transformation for many   years. A lot of people aren't aware of this but  Foresight has been running innovation challenges  

with groups like COSIA, and of course, we just  finished a significant Clean Resource Innovation   Network, CRIM, series of challenges as well. So 49  challenges over the last 6 years with industry and   the goal, once those technologies are deployed,  is to reduce carbon dioxide in the magnitude of   69 mega tonnes by 2033. So we really need to  support industry. Obviously it's part of our   livelihoods. It employs a lot of Canadians, and  if Canada can lead on deploying technologies that  

help these sectors transition to net zero  more quickly than our global counterparts,   it may be economic opportunity for exporting  technology and innovation and knowledge,   is just going to be incredible which I think would  be a great segue into some of the IP elements of   your work. Are there specific challenges around  carbontech with regards to IP protection? Tim:                 You know that's  an interesting question. I think,   first instance, acquiring intellectual  property protection it's a big topic because   some people immediately think of, for example,  trademarks. Some people think mainly of patents.  

Those aren't the only mechanisms available and  I think we'll probably get into some of the   other mechanisms that are available for people  to protect their innovations and technology.   But I think some of the particular  challenges with respect to carbon technology   and IP protection, there's sort of two aspects  to that. One being a practical aspect and then   the other being the actual technical aspect.  So my practical aspect, I mean if we're talking  

about patent protection in particular, there's  a practical challenge that seeking patents is,   regardless of the subject matter, is expensive  and it's a time consuming process. While a patent   itself typically can be enforced 20 years from the  date you file, it can take many years from filing,   if you actually do receive a granted patent  rights. So that in and of itself is a practical   challenge for a lot of, particularly startups,  and sometimes the companies that would be maybe   a 100 employees or less, because there's a lot  of resources that have to get directed towards   the process in general. The other aspect that I  was referring to, being a technical challenge,   is because we are literally dealing with the  forefront cutting edge of chemistry material   sciences, nanotechnology, a whole plethora of  different industries and types of technology.   Sometimes it can be challenging for clients to  find representation, being a patent agent or   a patent lawyer, that has the right technical  skillset to actually be an add on value add to   them trying to secure their patent protection.  By that I mean, not merely regurgitating what  

disclosure the client has provided to describe  their technology, but being able to integrate   their past experience that might relate to a  particular chemical application or, for example,   variety of different approaches that they may  have already worked on for carbon capture. Jeannette:       I know. It's incredible to  see how carbontech is infiltrating its way   through so many different sectors and when you  start talking about nano materials all the way   up to big carbon capture infrastructure, it's  really being looked at, at all levels of impact   across so many different value chains. It's  no wonder there's going to be opportunities  

for innovators and entrepreneurs to hold on to  those problems and address them through really   progressive innovation, and to have support from  your efforts and your team's efforts at Gowling,   when it comes to everything IP. Moving onto a  little bit more about sort of the comprehensive IP   strategies really required to enable entrepreneurs  to grow and scale and their businesses.   How do you, as a patent agent, work with  ventures to map those things out and come   up with a plan that's going to allow them  to protect their IP for years to come? Tim:                 That's a great question.  I think I would actually start with wearing  

my lawyer hat, rather than my patent agent hat,  because if we assume the scenario of a startup,   a true startup where people are bootstrapping,  trying to pull together some money to   start to developing a technology, whether it's  in a wet lab or in a garage trying to build some   sort of device, I think that the first challenges  that are often overlooked by startup companies is,   how can they best protect themselves without  putting resources, time and money into trying to   secure patent applications? So how do they protect  their company if they're going to be using a   corporate vehicle to bring forward the technology?  How do they protect the interest of that company   with respect to the friends and families that  they may have discussed the idea with? Employees   that may be coming in on more of a short term  basis but still getting access and exposure to   what the innovation is and how it actually works.  So part of what we do here, in terms of helping   startup technology companies, in particular,  in the carbontech space is help them understand   what types of agreements, legal agreements, we  think are relevant and important for them to have   with all the people that have exposure to their  technology. So whether that's a non-disclosure   agreement for anyone they're going to share  aspects of the technology with. Whether that's   a collaboration agreement or a joint development  agreement, whereby they start partnering with   other entities to start building other technology,  and employment and consultant or contractor   agreements, ensuring it's clear that anyone  who's touching the technology, as an employee or   contractor of the corporation, that it's clearly  articulated how the rights and obligations between   those parties apply so that, ultimately, when  it comes time for understanding whether a patent   application or a series of patent applications  makes sense in terms of the strategy, you've   already got in place the agreements that address  a lot of the issues that come up with a patent,   in terms of how does the company have it's rights,  who be named as inventors, are the rights secure   in the company and has anyone done anything that  may put patent rights in peril. So the question  

with respect enabling entrepreneurs to grow and  scale their business, I think the strategy is   not just one blanket strategy, file patent, seek  protection, you have to implement a strategy. We   suggest a strategy that is almost bespoke to the  needs of the company at the given time, whenever   that initial discussion is, and start setting the  stage for when more and more employees may come   on board, for example. You would already like  to have a version of your employment agreement.   What happens for investors and different types  of investors, if you get to the point where   potentially a VC might be interested in putting in  money, then have you already got all the corporate   aspects of your company and dealing with issues of  maybe earlier shareholders, have you already got   that bundled up and clean and tidy so that a VC  can focus more on learning about the technology,   which is important, rather than trying to asses  whether or not they want to make an investment   when due diligence could run into a closet full of  skeletons they could have addressed ahead of time.

Jeannette:       I think that's a great sort  of lead in into sort of some of the competitive   landscape opportunities and challenges that  all ventures face. I think we're all starting   to become aware that Canada has an incredible  opportunity to lead, in particular on everything   carbon capture, utilization and storage related,  and when we think of groups like CarbonCure,   Carbon Engineering, Carbon Upcycling, I mean the  list goes on. How does an entrepreneur approach an   IP strategy when there is a competitive  landscape? Perhaps more specifically,   is there something that they can do  to ensure that they're protecting the   right piece of IP and not stepping on any  other toes here in the Canadian landscape? Tim:                 That's another great  question and has a couple of different   parts to it. So the first part being, what  in particular should entrepreneurs do to   modify their strategy? I sort of echo the  comments I just provided. A strategy has to   be one that's realistic and practical to implement  with the resources you have on hand. So your time,   the amount of capital or funds available to act on  in the strategy, and also people and mind. Brain  

power to make things happen. So that's going to be  very much based on the individual entrepreneur and   their company's position. One thing we often try  to do is we don't want to be simply a law firm,   or an IP professional, that is there to get people  patents. We want to understand what the company's   commercial opportunities are so that we can help  devise a strategy that actually properly protects   the technology. So that involves building a  relationship, and that relationship is important,   because it's oftentimes someone can get a patent  issued and they'll say, hey I've got this patent   and I can enforce this against anyone, stop them  from doing whatever. But if you don't understand   what the foundational elements of the technology  that your technology's based on, your patent might   not have the commercial relevance, or scope  of protection that you think it might. So  

that's we why really want to understand what the  pressure points from our client's perspective so   we understand how their technology has developed  in the ways that it has. That gives us so much   more clarity as to what the best way to approach  a protection strategy, and again, it comes down   to what is the state of that entrepreneur at that  time. If they already have a suite of documents   that everyone's happy addresses ensuring that the  rights and obligations of individuals that get   access to the tech are covered, and all the rights  are flowing to the entity that we want it to,   then it becomes a question of so then how do we  understand the technology? How do we understand   how that technology fits in the landscape? So the  second part of your question really addresses how   does one get comfort that they're not getting  step on the toes of others? So I think there's   a few different approaches here. One is that  we often perform what are called landscape   analysis or searches for our clients. They say,  listen I'm interested in doing this, or this is  

where my technology relates to the subject of,  just picking an example, carbon capture and in   particular we like to use some compound X and we  think it's really useful in carbon capture. So   when we have that kind of information we can do  searches with some pretty sophisticated software   platforms that allow us to generate topographical  maps, or heat maps, of a landscape. So from there   we can understand, at least from a perspective of  what patent applications have been filed within 18   months or more, because a patent application  is generally confidential for the first 18   months of its life. So our searches will never  identify everything that's not been published  

yet but we can say to a client, okay here. Let's  look at this landscape and the landscape will   show areas where there's a number of patent  applications around the same topical area,   and places where there's white space, or the gaps  in the heat map that allow us to say, here's an   area that kind of relates to what you're doing  and there may be an opportunity to focus there,   in terms of getting greater access to a scope  of protection for your patent applications. Jeannette:       Yeah, I think your  touching on some really critical pieces.  

Too often we see innovators and venturers  not really leaning in hard enough with   customers to make sure that they've really  understood the problems that they're solving,   and the types of technologies, not only at a  blue sky broad scale, but when it comes down   to actually implementing the technologies and  the nuances that will have true operational   success and scale up, they have to do customer  discovery and they cannot stop that process,   even as they navigate building out that IP  portfolio. It's an ongoing thing that needs   to happen and it's probably pretty important  that the fewer assumptions you make, the better. Tim:                 Absolutely. Unfortunately,  with many industries, the global pandemic has   hampered those efforts. Before 2020, or before  COVID shut the world down, I'd spend a fair   amount of my time doing business to local  clients or flying to visit client facilities,   and had a great personal relationship with a  number of the R&D teams and I'd be able to see   the developments as they're occurring. Then we  go from the shop to the boardroom and just start  

mapping out strategy and different applications  that make sense to start pursuing. So, yeah,   the customer discovery and maintenance of  that relationship I think is critical for   the value add that an IP professional  can give a client, particularly in new   spaces or new areas of endeavour, like  carbontech, but more generally as well. Jeannette:       I want to lead in  to some of the considerations when   companies look to expand outside  of Canada, do the rules around IP   change when companies start to look at export  opportunities? Whether it's in North America,   to our self, whether it's in Europe,  Asia, what do they need to know? Tim:                 Sure. That's a great question  also. The sovereign nations around the world that   have patent offices that grant patent rights, from  a very high level there are a lot of similarities.  

But when you start digging into each different  country that you're interested in seeking patent   protection, there are nuances that can be quite  relevant. So when a client says to us, Tim,   I want to get a patent and I think this technology  could be relevant all around the world, how much   is that going to cost me? Well right away I'll  take a moment of pause and say, let's assess again   where the technology is, where are your potential  competitors and where do you have a commercial   opportunity that may arise? Because those are the  places that make the most sense to start trying   to look at whether a patent protection in that  jurisdiction makes sense. Then when you've gone   through those steps you typically go from what  may be 175 countries down to a probably more   realistic may be 5 countries. Then we can start  providing specific advice about the differences,   for example, between Chinese patent law, and US  patent law, and Canadian patent law and Europe.   All of those countries have their own patent  specific rules. So one start example would be   there are effectively two buckets, or two types of  jurisdictions, for dealing with prior disclosures.  

Some are called absolute novelty and others  have exceptions to absolute novelty. Absolute   novelty means that a patent application, or a  patent that's granted in a given jurisdiction,   cannot have been publicly disclosed before a  formal patent application was filed, covering that   subject matter. So what that means is if you have  filed a patent application it could very well go   through and become a granted patent, however, if  this is in absolute novelty jurisdiction and you   attempt to enforce that patent through litigation  against a third party, it could be that the third   party discovers that there was a prior public  disclosure of your technology before you filed   your patent application, and that patent could  be invalidated. Other jurisdictions like Canada   and the US provide certain grace periods; when you  can file a formal application if you already have   a public disclosure. So that's just one example  where you really have to a bit of an understanding   as to what the different rules are in different  places of the world to make sure that your   strategy, as your building it out, makes sense  and you aren't effectively shooting yourself in   the foot by going to a conference and presenting  a paper or a poster or something to that effect,   that describes your technology before you  file the patent application, because again,   that may take the validity of a patent issued  in absolute novelty jurisdiction off the table.

Jeannette:       I think that's a great  ending to our session today. I feel like   we could talk about so many more elements of how  Canadian companies scale, how they really look   at exports and ensure their IP's protected in  that process. Before we close off I'm going to   connect two more final questions. What are some  of the innovations that get you really excited   in this space and what advice would you give to  an entrepreneur looking to get into carbontech? Tim:                 Sure. Thanks again.  The things that really excite me are sort  

of twofold. One that really excites me is when  we see big oil and gas companies having a public   announcement of a carbon capture technology  that's being brought online. So here in Calgary,   we're South of the Canadian oil sands, where a  lot of people have focused their attention in   terms of anthropogenic carbon and I think that  it's great that some of these bigger companies   are actually taking steps to do what they have to  do to help mitigate the impact by reducing their   carbon footprint. We're talking facilities that  are such massive scale, it's really difficult   for us to comprehend how big these places are,  but these companies I think if they didn't do   it before they've certainly turned a leaf.  In terms of coming up with practical ways to   reduce their carbon footprint and I think that's  phenomenal. The other part of what really excites   me are the smaller companies that are focusing on  specific technologies. Again, one of the things I  

really love about my job when I'm wearing my  technology and lawyer or patent agent hat is,   I get to work with people who are at the cutting  edge of their field. So whatever that field is,   if it relates to carbon, mitigating the  impacts of carbon within our atmosphere,   you're dealing with people who are excited  about their technology and they're generally   very driven and focused. That is something  that I can pick up on and it energizes my   efforts to help them. In terms of what advice  would I give to an entrepreneur looking to get   in the carbontech space, I think the biggest  thing you've got to do, in my humble opinion,   is you have to go into with your eyes wide open.  You have to understand that there are somethings   that can be barriers to your development of your  technology and the success of your company. But  

if you have a proactive strategy that's based on  trying to protect your commercial opportunities,   and you take the right steps to make sure that  there aren't inadvertent exposures or disclosures   of your technology as you work towards potentially  building a patent portfolio, as long as you   take proactive steps and understand that those  things take resources to try and implement those   strategies, go get 'em, I think is how I'd finish  off. There's a lot of work to be done in the area.   A lot of innovation. A lot of white space in  those heat maps we generate and I'm just excited   to see how humanity, as a whole, will try and  solve this problem we've created for ourselves. Jeannette:       Tim, thank you so  much for bringing these opportunities,   conversations, issues to light  on Cleantech Forward. I look  

forward to talking to you soon.  Have a great rest of your day. Tim:                 Okay. Thanks  very much. Have a great day yourself. Jeannette:       Thanks for listening. Don't  forget to subscribe to Cleantech Forward and   rate and review the show on iTunes. Join us  next time when we talk with Tamara Loiselle,  

CEO of Synergraze, about etech innovations that  are reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally. Closing:           To learn more about  Foresights programs, advanced and more,   visit us at foresightcac.com or  follow us on social at foresightcac.

2022-07-10 10:27

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