A Canadian Version of the Patent Box: Will Canada say yes, or risk falling further behind in its innovation and competitive rankings
December 14, 2012

December 13, 2012

Live Brief

Adoption of Innovation Box would accelerate Intellectual Property (IP) exploitation and commercialization success in Canada

Contact: Emily Boucher, Media Adviser at eboucher@cata.ca or 613-236-6550

Ottawa, ON... CATAAlliance, Canada's largest high tech association, today, launched an advocacy Campaign to encourage the adoption of a Canadian form of the "Patent Box", i.e., an "Innovation Box". The Canadian "Innovation Box" would be tailored to provide a preferential, competitive tax regime for the successful exploitation and commercialization of Intellectual Property (IP), including patents, in Canada.

The Innovation Box Campaign took the form of a "Live Brief" with updates continually posted based on the expert guidance of thought leaders across Canada.

“Governments across the globe are looking at how to adopt tax incentive regimes that will encourage companies to locate, exploit and commercialize technologies in their jurisdictions. Our consultations demonstrate that action is likewise needed to eliminate Canada's Commercialization Gap,” said CATA President John Reid.

He added, "The Federal Government has it right and, in the 2012 Budget, acknowledged that the challenge is our failure to commercialize our innovations – not our failure to innovate. It is time to do something. An Innovation Box tailored for Canada fits the bill. It would reduce the tax rate on income arising from the exploitation and commercialization of IP at home.” For a copy of CATA's take on the 2012 federal budget "as a work in progress" and the importance of addressing the Commercialization Gap, go to http://www.cata.ca/Media_and_Events/Press_Releases/cata_pr04051201.html.

Mike Andrade, President, Diversified Markets at Celestica International Inc., talks about Canada's Commercialization Gap.
Then take a minute to hear about Canada's Commercialization Gap from Mike Andrade, President, Diversified Markets at Celestica International Inc., and member CATA National Leadership Council.

Adoption of the Innovation Box to Bridge the Gap

Patent Boxes" or sometimes referred to as “Innovation Boxes” have been adopted by countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Luxembourg, the UK, China and Spain. A main driver for the UK patent box is to incent companies to keep their IP in the UK. And, now, a patent box is actively being considered in the U.S. as part of their drive to regain economic hegemony.

The reference to "Box" comes from the check boxes on tax returns which indicate that specific types of expenses or revenues are being claimed. The term "Patent Box" or "Innovation Box" refers to the preferential treatment of income associated with the development, commercialization and exploitation of IP in the home country. Each country shapes what is included for preferential treatment and how it is treated to reflect what is believed to provide the best return for the country.”

CATA’s Senior Vice President, Tax, Finance & Advocacy, Russ Roberts, noted, “In the case of the Netherlands, officials took further steps to make it even more attractive than the Boxes in most countries. They adopted a wider "Innovation Box" that included a broader class of IP with no limit on income inclusion. That translates to an effective tax rate of five percent or the lowest rate available.”

Roberts added, “The benefits offered by the Innovation Box would be to encourage companies to base their R&D activities in Canada and to commercialize them here. This rebalancing of the federal tax regime would result in more scientific and high tech IP being commercialized and based in Canada. It would help us advance our place as a world leader in the successful exploitation of technologies to their fullest."

"Rebalancing of the tax regime", he noted "would be important in effectively meshing other tax policies so that they complement the goals of the Innovation Box. For example, the foreign affiliate rules currently incent Canadian companies to locate income from IP in low tax jurisdictions rather than in Canada. An Innovation Box could be useful in keeping economic activity associated with developing, acquiring and commercializing technology onshore rather than going offshore. It could provide better balance."

Mr. Reid noted that "Rather than leading with new concepts and approaches such as Innovation Boxes and Crowdfunding, Canada seems to be behind the curve. We are imperiling our Innovation future and risk squandering our creative investments in R&D and intellectual capital. This is all because of a failure to effectively address the Commercialization Gap and go one step better than the practices of our trading partners who intend to fully benefit from their investments."

"As suggested by the C.D. Howe Institute, with the increase in global tax incentives for the commercialization of R&D, Canada needs to consider improvements to the tax treatment of IP that is commercialized here to remain globally competitive."

The Advocacy Campaign, known as the Innovation Box Campaign forms an integral part of the industry's Competitive Innovation Nation program, a program, under the tutelage of Canada's leading entrepreneur, Sir Terence Matthews, that lays out what we must do as a nation to move us from a 13th place ranking to first place in innovation rankings.

Russ Roberts, CATA's Sr. VP Advocacy talks about the Innovation Box.
Russ Roberts, CATA's Sr. VP Advocacy spoke to the dimensions of this issue in a recent CATAnet TV video interview.
Vik Sachdev, Innovation Box Champion, and Partner at PwC Canada concludes, "The key is how to keep IP (Intellectual Property) at home and commercialize it. Our foreign affiliate rules are not neutral with respect to taxation of IP income taxed in Canada vs. IP income taxed in a low tax jurisdiction and then brought back to Canada tax free. One approach is lower corporate tax rates - starting with low tax rates on income derived from Canadian developed IP".

"If Canada is to become a Competitive Innovation Nation, we've got to do a better job of supporting, growing and retaining our high tech companies and the people that power them."

++ Action Item

MP and Community Mobilization
Please send electronically and/or print out and fax the Innovation Box communiqué and follow up with a phone call to your local MP, media and network of contacts, inclusive of posting on your social media. Please copy us on your correspondence, to jreid@cata.ca. We will send you a copy of PwC's white paper on the subject.

We will be sending shortly details of a TeleForum Conference Call to discuss the Innovation Box Campaign, provide updates and offer a Q&A with industry experts.