Ontario is seeking more than $50,000 to hire an examiner to help it identify and track down patent trolls and other companies that abuse its rules, the provincial government announced Wednesday.
The move by Premier Kathleen Wynne follows a spate of recent court decisions that have made the practice of issuing patent lawsuits easier.
It follows rulings that Canada and the United States are among the nations that have granted patents to the largest patent holders.
The government has said it is aiming to hire a patent examiners to help ensure the government has the technology and personnel necessary to address the problems it says have arisen in recent years, such as a shortage of patent examinators.
“Patent trolls, patent holders, abusive patent licensing practices and other abusive practices have been a problem in Ontario,” Wynne said in a news release.
“It is a job to protect and defend Ontario’s innovation, and we’re going to be doing everything we can to help protect Ontario’s economy.”
The government said it will spend the money to hire at least one examiner for every 15 patents it has filed, or the equivalent in legal fees, to protect against patent trolls.
The money will also be spent on hiring an investigator to help with investigations of alleged patent abuse.
Patent examiners have long been an important tool for Ontario in fighting patent litigation, said Ontario patent lawyer John F. Koehler.
He said he has seen a marked increase in cases filed by patent examulators in recent months.
“We’ve seen an increase in complaints,” Koehl said.
“The number of people who’ve been told that they’re infringing a patent and are being sued, and who’ve actually filed a patent, is growing every day.”
Patent troll problem ‘trivial’Ontario has a history of patent abuse, and it is a very significant problem, said Fergus Grosvenor, a professor of technology law at Ryerson University.
“There are a lot of cases where there are a few patents out there that have been filed in the United Kingdom or elsewhere that are the subject of litigation, and there are those cases where people who are claiming patents for a product that has nothing to do with the patent are filing lawsuits to have those patents expunged,” he said.
Patents in Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere are owned by large companies, like Apple and Google.
“It’s just an incredible problem.
There are a number of cases that are going to come out of these litigation and have been going on for a long time, and the patent examins are a very, very important tool,” Kogler said.”
I think it’s pretty significant that it’s coming to the province of Ontario.”
The Ontario Ministry of Innovation and Science has said that the state will also start using patent examinator technology to track down alleged patent trolls, as well as companies that make false claims about a product or service.
The ministry said it has hired six patent examintors to help in the first phase of the search, which it says will take about two weeks to complete.
Ontario will also seek the assistance of a patent counsel to assist with the search and to provide advice and assistance.