Intellectual property law at the heart of new partnership

IP Osgoode has partnered with Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) Centre for Commercialization of Research (CCR) to create a unique intellectual property (IP) clinical program that will match Osgoode law students with OCE-supported companies to help them secure and protect their IP en route to commercial success.

IP Osgoode, Osgoode Hall Law School’s Intellectual Property & Technology Law Program, and OCE, a not-for-profit corporation that drives the commercialization of Ontario academic research, recently signed a memorandum of understanding to solidify the program.

From left, Trish Barrow (director of Commercialization & CCR, Ontario Centres of Excellence), Osgoode students Shirley Bai, Rita Gao, Sebastian Talluri, Andrea Dias, Hashim Ghazi and Professor Giuseppina D'Agostino (founder & director, IP Osgoode). Missing from the photo is student Jeremy Loeb.
Above: From left, Trish Barrow (director of Commercialization & CCR, Ontario Centres of Excellence), Osgoode students Shirley Bai, Rita Gao, Sebastian Talluri, Andrea Dias, Hashim Ghazi and Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino (founder & director, IP Osgoode). Missing from the photo is student Jeremy Loeb.

“Intellectual property law is a key component in Ontario’s and Canada’s innovation agendas,” said Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president research and innovation. “The IP Osgoode/OCE project reflects our expanding research partnerships with industry and community partners and will further stimulate knowledge transfer between academia, government and industry groups pursuing innovative agendas.”

The IP Osgoode/OCE project will be launched as a 12-month pilot program with approximately six Osgoode students assisting OCE-supported companies with numerous IP matters – from patents to trademarks to copyright. The program will provide students with a combination of IP law theory and practical experience, while OCE is better able to support promising new companies, including helping them reduce start-up costs.

“This is a groundbreaking initiative for a law school to have a formal collaboration with a proven innovation driver such as OCE, at this level,” said Osgoode Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino, founder and director of IP Osgoode.

“These companies are at the early growth stage,” D’Agostino said. “They need help from a very early point without having legal fees and various other costs choke them before they can get up and running. Having our IP students involved with these OCE-supported start-ups while at the law school will minimize the companies’ IP costs because our students will be working pro bono.”

Initially, the students will explore general areas of IP, with a special focus on patent law. The students will then be engaged in a variety of IP activities such as reviewing IP licensing transactions, performing prior art searches, reviewing patent specifications, performing freedom-to-operate and clearance searches, assisting with the preparation and filing of provisional patent applications, and conducting legal research.

To better enable the students, OCE’s CCR will provide $30,000 for the project’s operating budget. OCE will work with IP Osgoode and a clinical supervisor to select the most suitable OCE-supported companies, based on the skills and knowledge of the participating students, the scope of potential projects that may come from a particular company, and other factors that are consistent with the program’s overall goals.

“OCE’s Centre for Commercialization of Research is delighted to be working with IP Osgoode on this initiative,” said Tom Corr, OCE president & CEO. “Starting with a solid IP strategy is essential to the successful commercialization of leading-edge discoveries. The companies we work with have limited resources, but tremendous potential. This partnership with IP Osgoode will solve problems at a crucial time for start-up companies that are poised to create jobs and strengthen Ontario’s economy.”

“For many high-potential start-ups, their IP is their most precious commodity,” said Mario Thomas, senior vice-president, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and managing director, Centre for Commercialization of Research. “IP protection is vital for technology companies to get their products to market, so the value of this legal expertise and guidance provided by IP Osgoode cannot be stressed enough.”

Osgoode Dean Lorne Sossin also applauded the partnership, describing the IP Osgoode/OCE project as “a robust collaboration that will extend the classroom into the realm of real-world IP issues and benefit both Osgoode IP students and the start-up companies.”