The New Innovator's Commercialization Dilemma

A Report on the CIGI International Intellectual Property Law Clinic

April 29, 2015

This report outlines the impetus behind the CIGI International Intellectual Property Law Clinic, which operated for three months in 2014. It consisted of a partnership among the CIGI International Law Research Program, Communitech (the Region of Waterloo’s hub for commercialization of innovative technologies) and leading intellectual property (IP) law firms.

The report describes the new innovator’s commercialization dilemma — a multifaceted dilemma arising from lack of IP legal knowledge, lack of financial resources and the high costs associated with IP protection, all of which combine to place the new innovator in a vulnerable position at the early stages of their commercialization timeline. After briefly surveying the current environment for entrepreneurship-based clinics, the report describes the elements and structure of the CIGI clinic.

Taking lessons learned from the CIGI clinic, the report illustrates how an IP-focused law clinic can help to address the commercialization dilemma. The report describes the manner in which IP clinics might be structured, while reviewing the associated benefits and challenges for each structure. The report also makes brief recommendations for governments, law societies, law schools and IP offices to support the provision of IP legal services through the law clinic model.

About the Authors

James W. Hinton is a senior fellow at CIGI, where he contributes expertise on intellectual property and innovation.