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Federal Patents, Licences and Royalties Survey, 2017/2018

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Released: 2019-03-08

Income from intellectual property commercialization, such as royalties, milestone payments, sale of intellectual property and other sources, increased 22.6% from 2015/2016 to $39.0 million in 2017/2018. This was the highest level of income reported since this data series began in 1997/1998.

Federal intellectual property disclosures and patent applications rise

During the initial phase of intellectual property commercialization, the confidentiality of R&D inventions is protected through various formal reports and disclosures, such as invention disclosures, copyrights and trademarks.

In fiscal year 2017/2018, federal government science-based departments and agencies identified 816 intellectual property reports and disclosures, up 56.3% from 2015/2016.

Invention disclosures increased 31.0% to 148 in 2017/2018, but remained below the average annual number of invention disclosures (196) reported since 1997/1998.

There were 368 patent applications from federal science-based departments and agencies in 2017/2018. This was more than double the number of patent applications in 2015/2016, but lower than the record 584 reported in 2009/2010.

Number of federal patents and licences decline

The number of patents issued in 2017/2018 to federal science-based departments and agencies declined to 181, which was 25.5% below the record 243 issued in 2015/2016. There were 2,690 patents held by these departments and agencies in 2017/2018, which represented the new patents issued plus patents from previous years still in effect at the end of the reference period. While the number of patents held fell 8.8% during this period, it was still the second highest holding since the start of this series.

After patenting, the inventor typically seeks out commercialization partner(s) to assist with bringing the intellectual property to market. A licence is a legal agreement between the inventor and the commercialization partner. New licences are those that were signed during the reference year. Active licences represent the sum of all new licences plus all prior year licences still in force at the end of the reference period.

Both new and active federal government licence agreements executed within Canada and abroad declined from 2015/2016 to 2017/2018. There were 392 new licences (-5.3%) and 1,675 active licences (-16.4%) in 2017/2018.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Selected intellectual property indicators
Selected intellectual property indicators

  Note to readers

The survey provides information on the activities of federal government science-based departments and agencies related to new instances of intellectual property reported or disclosed, number of patents, new and active licences and income received from intellectual property commercialization.

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