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If pipelines, automakers, ketchup plants are worthy of public backing, so should BlackBerry’s patents be

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Still, what’s best for BlackBerry’s shareholders isn’t necessarily good for Canada, which has a stake in those patents, since the company would have benefitted from the knowledge and talent generated by the University of Waterloo and other publicly funded universities, not to mention the various tax breaks and subsidies that governments provide to encourage research and development.

The possibility Canada could lose that IP shows the limits of a laissez-faire approach to economic development

The possibility that Canada could lose all that intellectual property shows the limits of a laissez-faire approach to economic development. A recent report by the Business Council of Canada observed that Canada “is nowhere to be seen” in patent filings related to artificial intelligence, even though Canadian researchers are among the field’s pioneers.

“Canada can lay claim to impressive R&D capability in AI, but we have yet to translate this into significant commercial outcomes and world-leading firms,” the report said, adding that no Canadian company ranks among the world’s 200 biggest spenders on research and development.

A spokesman for Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains declined to comment on whether Bains had been in touch with Chen or if the Trudeau government felt compelled to intervene.

“We are unable to comment on speculation involving commercial transactions,” John Power said. However, he added, Bains takes intellectual property seriously, citing the National Intellectual Property Strategy from 2018, the first of its kind.

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