Stories of IP
PBSC Urban solutions
"Changing the world, one city at a time," is the motto of PBSC Urban Solutions Inc. (PBSC), and it is easy to understand why. Creator of Montréal's bike sharing system (BIXI), this Canadian company designs, produces and sells bike sharing systems all over the world. The eco-friendly system consists of a docking station and kiosk where bikes can be rented by credit card and returned. Customers can also use their membership card or a mobile app. Popular in Montréal and Toronto, PBSC has successfully implemented its products in more than 30 cities around the world, including New York, London, Chicago, Honolulu, Melbourne and Rio de Janeiro.
The system was created in 2008 at the request of the City of Montréal, whose mayor at the time had seen the bike sharing system in Paris and wanted Montréal to have such a system as an eco-friendly way to address traffic congestion. To that end, a team was created that included the renowned industrial designer Michel Dallaire and various strategic partners. In the beginning and later on, significant investments were made in research and development to ensure that the company would remain recognized as a pioneer and would continue to introduce new products that would appeal to its customers around the world. It goes without saying that the teams are the driving force behind this ambition, but intellectual property (IP) is the source.
"IP is at the heart of our success," says Adrian Popovici, PBSC's Chief of Legal Affairs. "In addition to trademarks, we hold approximately 140 patents and industrial designs registered or in the process of being registered the world over. Our IP portfolio includes registrations in some 40 countries. It was a long and sometimes arduous process. But because Canada has now acceded to the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, companies like ours will only need to file an application for registration once through the World Intellectual Property Organization and be able to protect it in more than 60 countries."
"PBSC's IP strategy shows customers, many of which are major cities or partners, that PBSC is a serious company that is legally well structured to protect its products and ensure continuity over time. Cities generally hate taking risks, and the fact that we hold patents and industrial designs on our products reassures them that we do in fact own the rights to our IP."
PBSC wants to continue its global growth by implementing its system in as many cities as possible around the world. Says Mr. Popovici, "We are, in our own way, helping to reduce traffic and pollution in cities and to encourage people to adopt a more active lifestyle. This is really an incredible opportunity for us to make progress and leave our mark."
World Entrepreneurs' Day
Eden Full Goh
What started as a high school science project for Eden Full Goh is now a global non-profit organization benefiting more than 17,000 people around the world.
While growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Eden sought to increase the efficiency of solar energy. At 10 years old, she built a small solar-powered car using directions from a library book. Her fascination with the energy source led her on a path to design a solar panel that automatically follows the rotation of the sun. At age 15, she submitted her invention, now known as the SunSaluter, to the Calgary Youth Science Fair.
The SunSaluter uses gravity along with simple materials to boost a solar panel's output by up to 30%. The device can also be fitted with a water filter, making several litres of clean drinking water a day.
Although the technology received acclaim by judges, teachers, and fellow students alike, it would be a few years before Eden would share her technology with the world. She went on to study mechanical engineering at Princeton University while also serving as a coxswain on the varsity rowing team.
However, her college career was put on hold in 2011 when she was awarded a Thiel Fellowship. The two-year program, founded by American entrepreneur Peter Thiel, encourages college students to take time off school and pursue their business idea with a $100,000 (USD) grant.
Eden left Princeton for San Francisco where she patented her technology and founded SunSaluter, a non-profit organization dedicated to deploying her technology in developing countries. The low-cost solution is now found in 19 countries where it benefits communities with limited access to electricity.
Eden has been named to Forbes' 30 Under 30: Energy & Industry for three years in a row. Today, she lives in New York and serves as chair of the board for SunSaluter. She also mentors other entrepreneurs and stresses the importance of determination:
"The biggest thing was that I kept at it. The current iteration [of SunSaluter] is the 70th version. We kept at it. The key to succeed is being willing to put in the time. Always keep an open mind and don't give up when it's difficult."
Ann Makosinski is not your average young adult. At 19, she made the famous Forbes' 2017 30 Under 30 list in the "Energy" category thanks to two of her inventions: a United States patented flashlight, the Hollow Flashlight, which is powered by the human hand, as well as the eDrink, a mug that uses heat from a drink to charge a phone.
Growing up, Ann's first toy was a box of transistors. Using her hot glue gun and garbage from around the house, she would piece together "inventions". She started participating in science fairs when she was eleven years old, and credits her parents for having given her the space and freedom to tinker away on projects.
In her teenage years, inspired by a friend in the Philippines who was failing school because she didn't have any electricity or light to study at home during the night, she invented a flashlight (the Hollow Flashlight) that converts excess body heat into electricity to power an LED bulb without the need for batteries, solar power or kinetic energy. It has since been recognized with multiple awards, including awards from the 2013 Canada-Wide Science Fair, the 2013 Google Science Fair and the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
Nowadays, Ann is working on some new inventions, as well as obtaining additional patents for the flashlight and her eDrink. She was also named a global ambassador for Uniqlo's Heattech fleece product line that takes body heat and stores it within the fibre to keep the wearer warm.
She is currently enrolled at the University of Victoria, studying English literature. She decided to combine her love for both the sciences and the arts to work on two books—a children's adventure book and a travel book—which have already caught the attention of publishers. She is also in talks with a major studio for a television series.
Ann is not afraid to work to turn her ideas into reality: "I love dreaming about something, and asking, 'Is this possible?'" she says. "My philosophy is, 'The only way to find out is to build it.'"
David et Marie-Pier Corbeil
Two heads are better than one, as the saying goes, and that is certainly true in terms of the career path of David and Marie-Pier Corbeil, sibling entrepreneurs and co-presidents of Recharge Véhicule Électrique (RVE). This dynamic young duo has developed and marketed a flexible, scalable charging solution, the DCC Condo by Thermolec, specially designed for charging electric vehicles in condominiums.
The simple grey metal box connects a charging station to the main power supply of a condominium when the Hydro-Québec meter is accessible. But how does it distinguish itself from its competitors? Well, it is the only system that makes it possible to bill electricity for an electric vehicle directly to the Hydro-Québec residential account of a condo unit without increasing the load on the condo unit's electrical panel. It can be easily installed on columns, ceilings and walls.
But how did the Corbeil siblings come up with the idea of designing this product, which is eco-friendly, practical and perfect for city living? It began with a simple question: How can charging stations be powered when buildings and houses are not designed to handle the extra energy transfer? Initially, RVE developed a prototype that was too big to be marketed. In 2015, it called on Thermolec, a small manufacturing company in Montréal with expertise in electric coils. Together they reduced the size by a factor of three and simplified the installation.
"Both our parents are electrical contractors and, when electric vehicles started becoming popular in 2011, they were installing charging stations. My brother worked with them in the summer, and it was impossible to install charging stations in condos," says Marie-Pier, explaining how they got the stroke of genius to invent a charge controller system.
In May 2015, the two were awarded the $50,000 Pierre-Péladeau Bursary, which fosters the establishment of businesses by Quebec university students. The bursary enabled them to carry out their project and tackle problems associated with using an electric vehicle charging station at home. David, who holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and Marie-Pier, who holds one in graphic design, used their studies to combine creativity, business savvy and entrepreneurship to establish their company, RVE. The apple does not fall far from the tree; their father is an electrician, and he has passed on to them his concern for the environment and his desire to find sustainable development solutions. In fact, they tested the prototype of their invention on the family electric car.
Going forward, Thermolec will be in charge of production, and RVE will handle marketing. Having filed a provisional patent application in the United States in 2016, the two companies recently filed regular patent applications in the United States and in Canada. The young company believes that a multibillion-dollar market is emerging in North America. Aside from Quebec, they are focusing on California for the DCC Home and British Columbia for the DCC Condo. They are confident that they can increase access to electric vehicles there as well and, given their track record, they will certainly succeed!
World Industrial Design Day
Michel Dallaire: Over 50 Years of Canadian industrial design
Are you familiar with the BIXI bike, the self-service bike that is available whenever you want, on four continents? The creator behind this innovation is none other than the famous industrial designer Michel Dallaire.
A multi-talented designer, Michel has been around since 1965. He has been involved in the design of a wide variety of projects and consumables, from the one-gallon bleach bottle to the angel-shaped Angelcare baby monitor and the Olympic torch! Always at work, he is currently a senior advisor on a number of special projects related to urban development and street furniture.
With over 50 years of industrial design under his belt and many more years to come, he is not finished finding solutions to problems. "Industrial design is about solving problems and creating a product that people want," he says. For his BIXI prototype, he was inspired by the boomerang "because a boomerang comes back, and we wanted the bikes to come back." When you compare the two, the similarity of the curve is striking!
BIXI is owned by PBSC Urban Solutions, which has registered over a dozen industrial designs in Canada. "A project's only value is its protection. If the project is not protected, it has no commercial value," says Dallaire. "Imagine, if we had not protected our intellectual property for BIXI, everyone would have copied us." With 60,000 bicycles and 5,000 stations in 30 cities around the world, it is fair to say that business is going well.
1976 Olympic torch
The Quebec industrial designer also had the chance to create the Olympic torch design for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montréal. The geometric form was inspired by cattails, which are sometimes used as improvised torches. Dallaire's torch burned olive oil, "because we wanted a photogenic flame, visible both day and night," he says.
I aim for timelessness in its technical and aesthetic purpose and am wary of passing trends that eventually go out of fashion. I want to highlight the object, but not distort it. Isn't that precisely our role in giving things shape?
The Quebec designer has received many awards and recognitions during his long career, including the Order of Canada, the Ordre national du Québec and the Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas.
Interested in learning more about Michel Dallaire? Get his book, Michel Dallaire : De l'idée à l'objet, published by Les éditions du passage. Read more about industrial designs on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website.
Inuit Art Foundation
What's behind the Canadian IP success of the Igloo Tag Trademark? It all started when Inuit artwork was introduced to southern Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. At that point, Inuit artists were threatened by copycats. In 1958, the Government of Canada stepped in and established the Igloo Tag Trademark to help protect Inuit artists from copyright infringement, certifying items as being authentic.
In 2017, the trademark was transferred from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to the Inuit Art Foundation, increasing the Inuit community's ability to protect their cultural identity and improve the socio-economic conditions of their people. The Government of Canada's Impact of the Inuit Arts economy report recently estimated that the igloo tag contributes $3.5 million annually to the Inuit arts economy.
When asked about the significance of the transfer of the trademark to the Inuit Art Foundation, Alysa Procida, Executive Director of the Inuit Art Foundation, stated: "The Inuit Art Foundation, an Inuit-led organization, is honoured to continue the legacy of such an important component of the Inuit arts economy. For 60 years, the trademark has protected Inuit artists from fraud and cultural appropriation, and the foundation is pleased to be able to help the program grow and adapt to today's needs."
National Indigenous Peoples Day
A Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River, Roberta Jamieson is a role model and an inspirational leader. In 2004, Jamieson became President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Indspire, a national Indigenous charity investing in the education of Indigenous people so they can achieve their highest potential. During her tenure, Indspire has disbursed almost $100 million through more than 29,000 scholarships and bursaries to Indigenous students.
Having led a distinguished career, Jamieson is the first First Nations Canadian woman to earn a law degree, the first woman Ombudsman of Ontario and the first woman elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River, where she continues to reside with her family. After earning numerous awards, including 25 honorary doctorate degrees, Jamieson was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016.
Jamieson highly values intellectual property (IP). Speaking from her own lived experience, she says that "Indigenous ways of knowing can often be taken by others without understanding or accepting that such appropriation is improper and disrespectful." In the 13 years since Jamieson was named CEO, Indspire has registered over 30 trademarks.
Kendal Netmaker has been on a mission to empower underprivileged youth ever since an act of kindness changed his life forever. Growing up in poverty in Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan, Kendal was not afforded the luxury of youth sports. That was until Grade 5, when a friend's family paid his soccer registration fee and sent Kendal on a path toward earning a university volleyball scholarship.
After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, he went on to found the award-winning lifestyle apparel brand Neechie Gear and registered his first trademark. Today, a portion of his company's profits goes toward funding youth sports programs. When asked about the importance of intellectual property rights, Kendal replied, "I make sure to trademark anything that I feel is necessary to keep a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In the past, I have failed to do so, and it has cost me many times."
If you stepped into Sean McCormick's shoes, you would immediately feel his strong entrepreneurial spirit. Sean, a Métis businessman from Winnipeg, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of Manitobah Mukluks. Over the past 28 years, he has grown his company from a small trading post to one of Canada's fastest-growing footwear brands. Today, the mukluks and moccasins sold by his company are regularly spotted on the feet of celebrities. With over $25 million (CAD) in annual sales, the company has a registered trademark that helps protect their valuable brand.
Sean describes himself as a Métis man who used his pride and talent to translate his origins into a popular product, but he also stands out as a compassionate and generous individual by making a difference in the Indigenous community. In 2015, he founded the Storyboot School, an outreach program that pairs students with Aboriginal artisans to learn the process of making moccasins.
Famous Five Women of IP
Sarah McLachlan's enchanting voice and profound lyrics have been haunting our hearts and minds for over 30 years. This talented singer-songwriter has sold over 40 million albums in her career and was recently inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Her album Surfacing, released in 1997, is her best-selling release to date. She's also won an impressive number of Juno Awards. In 1999, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2001, she was further rewarded for her vision and talent when she was appointed to the Order of British Columbia.
Sarah is also an esteemed entrepreneur with three registered trademarks under the Sarah McLachlan Entertainment Corporation, including Tyde Records and Tyde Music, as well as the famous Lilith Fair festival, which showcased female artists. This festival brought over two million people together during its three-year run and raised over $7 million for women's charities. It also helped launch the careers of numerous female performers. Sarah has shown how protecting her intellectual property by registering her trademarks can be a strong strategic asset, not only from a business perspective but an artistic one as well.
Sarah continued her philanthropic efforts by laying the groundwork for a non-profit music education program in Vancouver. When she first envisioned a music school at no cost, she knew that in order for her vision to thrive, she would have to think outside the box. The Sarah McLachlan School of Music officially opened its doors in 2002 with a mission to provide top quality music instruction at no cost, in a safe and nurturing environment, for at-risk and underserved children and youth. The school reaches hundreds of young people every year, providing them with the space and the tools they need to express themselves and it offers a secure, inspiring place to learn, practice, and ultimately connect with others and with themselves.
Here's what music brings to Ms. McLachlan's life and how she's used her passion to help others:
"Because of music, my life has deeper meaning and a powerful sense of purpose. I learned early on how good it feels to give back and when I saw music programs being cut from the public school system, I knew I could do something to help fill that void. Creating a free music program for at-risk and underserved kids felt like a great and powerful way of using my gifts for something really meaningful, for a greater purpose."
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Dr. Roberta Bondar has an impressive list of achievements and has undertaken many professional roles in her life, including astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, photographer, author, environment interpreter and team leader. As Canada's first female astronaut and the first neurologist in space, she has received many honours, including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Medal, 24 honorary degrees from Canadian and American universities and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.
Dr. Bondar combines her love of science with a passion for photography. She also understands the importance of protecting ideas and products through intellectual property rights. In July 2009, she founded the Roberta Bondar Foundation, a registered trademark and not-for-profit charity where she explores the relationship between life and the planet through the fusion of art and science. She's the only astronaut to use fine art photography to reveal Earth's natural environment from the surface. Through her foundation, she's interested in addressing "the growing nature deficit in society, cultivating in all ages a sense of awe, respect and appreciation for other life forms that share our planet."
Dr. Bondar is recognized worldwide for her contributions to space medicine. For more than a decade at NASA, she headed an international space medicine research team where she continued to find new connections between astronauts recovering from the microgravity of space and neurological illnesses here on Earth such as stroke and Parkinson's disease. She's a prime example of a scientist using science to better humanity!
Margaret Atwood is a highly respected, world-famous Canadian novelist, but did you know that she's also an inventor? She is the genius behind the LongPen, a remote signing device that enables authors to give readings, interact with another person and do book signings without being physically present. In 2014, Margaret Atwood co-founded Syngrafii Inc. which has now developed into a leading digital signature platform with the launch of Syngrafii sPaper™.
She also holds various patents related to the LongPen technologies, demonstrating that protecting her intellectual property is key to her business strategy.
Ms. Atwood began writing at the tender age of six. At 78, she's still a very active member of the writing community. Her literary works and complex and enigmatic female characters have transformed the Canadian literary landscape and carved out a place for women in literature. She's won numerous awards, including the Man Booker Prize for her novel, The Blind Assassin, and some of her books have been adapted for stage and screen, including a television series based on Alias Grace and the recent Emmy-winning series, The Handmaid's Tale.
This great writer also believes in the importance of protecting our creations:
"Book copyrights are essential to the ability of writers to make a living from selling books that contain their creations. […] I could not exist as a self-employed writer without copyright."
The former T.V. host carved out a place for herself in the business world when she founded Lise Watier Cosmetics in 1972. A trailblazer in the field of cosmetics in Canada, Ms. Watier's company emphasized quality and innovation. Over the past several decades, she has registered dozens of trademarks for her best-selling beauty products in Canada and Quebec. She believes that "managing one's trademarks is the key to the success and sustainability of a business. It enables us to accomplish great things and to have a positive impact on society."
Thanks to her determination, and because she listens to women, Ms. Watier has received many honours, including the Order of Canada, l'Ordre national du Québec and the Order of Montreal, as well as three honorary doctorates.
In 2009, armed with her intellectual property rights, the visionary entrepreneur created the Lise Watier Foundation. Now headed by Ms. Watier's daughter, Marie-Lise Andrade, the foundation took a new turn in the fall of 2017 with the development of its own assistance program. The s'Entreprendre program is aimed at helping women gain long-term financial independence with the help of education and entrepreneurship. The program is based on the concepts of intervention, training, support and financial backing.
The story of the Haida fashion designer, born in Alaska and now living in British Columbia, is one of inspiration and determination. From weaving spruce root hats with her grandmother in 1981 to opening a store downtown Vancouver in 1994 and finally receiving the Order of Canada in 2015, Dorothy Grant has followed her dreams, spreading the Haida culture internationally.
"I knew 30 years ago that my hands logo reflected the core philosophy of my fashion design. At first, I was using it as a garment label. Then, I registered it as a trademark that would always represent my name, which I had spent years branding. I fought for six years against a company that claimed my trademark was too similar to theirs: a battle I won, and which was worth fighting. The world of fashion is full of mimes that will copy without asking. That's when it's useful to have a registered trademark to prove you're the owner. People are less likely to copy it," says the designer.
Dorothy's work innovatively combines Haida formline art with haute couture and has been featured in 15 museums in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. It has been worn in fashion shows and on Oscars red carpets and has earned her an impressive number of awards in her career, spanning over four decades.
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