Resolution Urging Canada’s Trudeau Administration to Protect Intellectual Property Rights by Dismantling the Promise Doctrine and Opposing Similar Initiatives Proposed by Trading Partners Worldwide


Canada has long ranked surprisingly low among developed nations in the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). A significant reason for this is Canada’s invalidation of biopharmaceutical patents, due to its embrace of a legal theory called the “Promise Doctrine.” Patents must be new, non-obvious and useful to obtain a patent according the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. Canada alone has added an additional layer – that the precise use of the patent must be part of the original patent filing. The Promise Doctrine results in the premature invalidation of patents which has already led to a drop in Canada’s World Economic Forum innovation ranking. Additionally, this standard of patent utility is inconsistent with the standard embodied in TRIPS and the Patent Cooperation Treaty and is arbitrarily applied by Canadian courts.

Resolution Urging Canada’s Trudeau Administration to Protect Intellectual Property Rights by Dismantling the Promise Doctrine and Opposing Similar Initiatives Proposed by Trading Partners Worldwide

WHEREAS, the right to own property is a fundamental human right; and

WHEREAS, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) are crucial to the future of the innovation-based economy; and

WHEREAS, creating an environment where property rights are protected and legally enforced contributes to social and economic growth and stability; and

WHEREAS, scholarly research shows that the protection of intellectual property rights are key drivers for a country’s economic growth; and

WHEREAS, various studies and indexes show that there is a strong positive correlation between a country’s robust intellectual property rights enforcement and GDP per capita; and

WHEREAS, workers in IP-heavy industries are, on average, paid 30 percent higher in wages per worker at $50,576 compared to the national average of $38,768; and

WHEREAS, the pharmaceutical industry supports approximately 34,000 high paying jobs with over $1 billion per year invested in research; and

WHEREAS, Canada has a history as one of the most highly developed environments for promoting the advancement of the arts and business through the defense of intellectual property rights; and

WHEREAS, Canada has begun to lag behind other developed nations in protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights; and

WHEREAS, IPR advocates are concerned with the “Promise Doctrine” which forces innovators to demonstrate the utility at the time of filing the patent; and

WHEREAS, this Doctrine weakens innovators’ ability to defend and enforce their patents; and

WHEREAS, weakening IPR is not only detrimental to the economy, but can also place the public’s health and safety at risk; and

WHEREAS, the protection of intellectual property incentivizes lifesaving medicines, breakthrough consumer products and green technologies; and

WHEREAS, the Promise Doctrine will hinder innovation and the access to medicine that accompanies strong IPR for both Canada and the United States; and

WHEREAS, Canadian patients are already seeing the repercussions of decreased medical innovation as the number of clinical trials in Canada has decreased by 21 percent from 2005 to 2014; and

WHEREAS, the importance of secure intellectual property rights is recognized in international treaties and conventions; and

WHEREAS, Canada and the United States’ close trading partnership benefits from our IP-related fields; and

WHEREAS, the Doctrine is at odds with international practices and with Canada’s obligations to both NAFTA and WTO; and

WHEREAS, American IP-intensive industries account for 74 percent of U.S. exports or $1 trillion; and

WHEREAS, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) recognizes the importance to the market economy of protecting all forms of intellectual property, including trademarks, brands, logos;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that ALEC call upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada to uphold intellectual property rights in Canada and abroad by dismantling the Promise Doctrine; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that ALEC urge legislatures around the world to reject legislation it is asked to consider that threaten property rights; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ALEC will submit this resolution to the Ambassador of Canada to the United States, the United States Trade Representative and the office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.