The 4th Annual IP Data & Research Conference: Data in Support of Evidence-Based Policymaking

The 4th Annual IP Data & Research Conference: Data in Support of Evidence-Based Policymaking

In developing policies to address various issues, policymakers rely on data to identify areas of need, establish regimes of implementation, and gauge effectiveness along the way. To this end, it is important to develop sound and high-quality collection methods that meet the specific needs of entities, both extant and potential, seeking to use IP.

After a full day of highly successful sessions and speakers, the 4th Annual IP Data & Research Conference wrapped up with a line of esteemed presenters speaking on ‘Data in Support of Evidence-Based Policymaking’. 

2019 Intellectual Property Awareness and Use Survey

Senior Policy Advisor Teodora Cosac began the session by introducing the 2019 Intellectual Property Awareness and Use Survey (IPAUS), a collaborative effort by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), and Statistics Canada. 

While IP protection is often credited with significant contributions toward innovation and economic growth, little research has been conducted on the actual relationship between the formal use of IP and the economic performance of the firms that use it. The IPAUS sought to address this policy question and data gap by conducting empirical, firm-level analyses on 16,000 enterprises across Canada. The survey targeted businesses of varying sizes and across all sectors of the economy, and its response rate of over 75% was consistent across all segments. Data was collected on business structure and activities, executive demographics, IP awareness, and IP use. 

The data aims to establish a baseline for the effectiveness of IP strategy for firms and to improve our understanding of whether businesses think IP is relevant for growth and why. Additionally, the IPAUS profiled underrepresented IP-using groups, as well as IP “non-users”, and their IP-related challenges and decisions . 

Importance of Patents (And How to Calculate It) 

Next, Dr. Andrew W Torrance, distinguished law professor and Senior Director of the Intellectual Property Department at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, spoke to his research on big data network approaches to patent valuation. This method of database and network analysis views patent publications and their citations as forming a vast network of “nodes” (publications) and “links” (citations), representing the millions of choices that inventors make when developing their patented ideas. By treating this kind of data as a network, one can learn more about where patent knowledge is generated, where it flows, and how patterns have, and likely will, change. 

Dr. Torrance and his colleagues used the “Eigenvector” algorithm, which works especially well for analyzing patent documents. Patent value often correlates with citations, but raw citations can be misleading. In a network context, patents found in the middle of a network may seem more important; but the Eigenvector centrality and hierarchical graphing techniques calculate specific metrics based on emerging patterns to show that patents out on the fringes of networks may be way more important than initially thought. 

The resulting network offers a panoramic view of distinct technological sectors by disclosing closely related technologies for which its patents will cluster together. The approach has also revealed important positive correlations, such as that between citations and the monetary value of a patent, and between patent importance and litigation. 

Using international patent data from PATSTAT, global patterns of patent knowledge flow can also be collated and graphed. Results show developing countries unfortunately still participate relatively much less. Data research in worldwide patent importance can help to assess company and country innovation performance both generally and in specific technology areas.

ISED’s Data Strategy: From Vision to Implementation 

The session concluded with a presentation by Chief Results and Delivery Officer, Julie McAuley, who canvassed the federal government and ISED’s data strategy for creating, protecting, managing, using, and sharing data. The strategy followed the Government’s acknowledgement that it must improve its approach to data with respect to governance, funding, procuring, authorities, rule sets, and digital backbone within the next decade. 

Having begun its consultation period in 2018, ISED could quickly develop a data strategy roadmap for the federal public service based on 21 recommendations covering 4 pillars: governance, peoples and culture, environment and digital infrastructure, and treating data as an asset. To date, ISED has applied their recommendations in numerous areas of growth, including investments in talent, the establishment of a departmental data catalogue, the implementation of an analytics sandbox, and pilot training in artificial intelligence (AI) at all levels. 

The government is looking to invest in future-minded talent who can and will view data as a strategic asset. ISED has also clarified that its roadmap is “ever-green” in nature and subject to new innovations, developments, needs, and values. With a continued focus on the future, the government’s numerous next-step directives are compatible with the shifting landscape of digital information to come. 


Wrapping up the 4th Annual IP Data & Research Conference, the final session’s three speakers came to a poignant consensus about the importance of data availability and collaboration between governmental and non-governmental entities. Accessible, usable, and high-quality data is proving to be highly invaluable to effective policy-making, and will no doubt only rise in significance in the future. 

Emily Xiang is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. She is an IPilogue Writer and an executive for the Intellectual Property Society of Osgoode.