Military vet battles government over intellectual property

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Military vet battles government over intellectual property

Post by Trooper on Mon 07 Mar 2016, 09:58

Defence industry advocates worry veterans will lose out in wake of new ruling

A recent court decision is raising concerns and potential conflicts for Canadian military veterans and reservists who develop new technology and intellectual property after they've left the forces.

In February, a Federal Court of Appeal ruling determined that anyone whose name is on the Canadian Armed Forces' supplementary reserve list even if he or she receives no pay or benefits is considered a public servant.

"What it means for veterans who are on the supplementary reserve list is that their rights, with respect to things that they invent after they leave the military, are now in a bit of a state of flux," said Susan Beaubien, an intellectual property lawyer with Macera and Jarzyna in Ottawa.

It also means veterans and reservists working full time in the private sector must first seek permission from the federal government before applying for a patent for their inventions.

'It's a bit chilling'

"It's a bit chilling, because if you're in the private sector, a private sector employer is not really going to want to have to run to the government to ask for permission to file a patent application. It is a cautionary tale for others," said Beaubien.

Louis Brown, military veteran and president of NOR Environmental in North Bay, Ont., is at the centre of the case.

Brown retired from the forces in 1993 and went on to start his own company developing specialized shelters and filtration systems used in the event of a chemical or biological attack. In 1999, Brown patented his shelter technology in both Canada and the U.S.

Given his specialization in chemical defence, Brown said when he retired, he agreed to go on the supplementary reserve list. He was not paid, nor called into service, but his name remained on the list until 2009.

In the meantime, Brown said he introduced his technology to officials in the Public Works department. But in 2009, the federal government contracted a U.S. firm to supply a product similar to Brown's shelters. Claiming patent infringement, Brown took the government to court in 2012.

Still a public servant

The government moved to dismiss the case using the Public Service Invention Act, stating it already owned the patent because, technically, Brown was still a public servant when he filed for his patent in 1999.

"It does not feel good when your government attacks you because you've shown them something they know is yours and they decide to take it from you," said Brown.

The Public Servants Invention Act has been around since 1954. Beaubien, who is Brown's lawyer, said she's not aware of any cases dealing with this issue since the law was created.

"It's a very unusual and perhaps somewhat obscure statute," she said.

Many defence manufacturers hire engineers and technologists who've acquired their skills while serving in the military. Brown said he's hearing from other veterans and private sector employers who are concerned about this ruling.

'A lose, lose, lose situation'

"I think it has a huge potential for a lose, lose, lose situation," said Christyn Cianfarani, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries which represents about a 1,000 companies in Canada's defence industry. She's been watching the case closely.

"It's going to be our veterans in theory that are going to lose," said Cianfarani. "The worry is some might already be in a catch-22 position where they have an employment contract signed with the corporation that has intellectual property clauses in it and they're now potentially compromised."

She said defence companies may be discouraged from hiring veterans or reservists, or vets may be discouraged from adding their names to the reserve list in the first place.

Cianfarani said her organization will be raising these issues with government officials and cabinet ministers, including the defence minister.

Hopes for clarity

Brown hopes the Liberal government is willing to discuss the matter and provide some clarity.

"Having your own government attack you doesn't feel very good, but I think veterans can expect better out of this new government and that's what we're hoping," said Brown.

He said his company is in limbo until the questions over his patent are resolved in federal court, so in the meantime he wants to warn other veterans who are on the supplementary reserve list.

"If you're on this list you must know that anything you develop if you do not now go and talk to the military and ask if you give permission for you to get a patent or copyright they can come back and they can take it from you."

The Department of National Defence said in a statement to CBC that right now, it is assessing the recent court ruling, and it will work with the Justice Department to determine the next steps.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/military-veteran-government-intellectual-property-1.3475301

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Re: Military vet battles government over intellectual property

Post by Rags on Mon 14 Mar 2016, 23:02

Id suggest that if the case was brought to the supreme court it would get a different hearing result.

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Re: Military vet battles government over intellectual property

Post by Trooper on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 10:37

Advocates call for action on veteran's patent case

Tech industry group wants innovation minister to intervene in 'catch-22' for vets

An industry advocacy group that represents thousands of technology companies has launched a campaign calling for government action over a recent court decision that questions the patent rights of some Canadian military veterans.

Military vet battles government over intellectual property
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) doesn't think much of the February ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that determined anyone whose name is on the Canadian Armed Forces supplementary reserve list is considered a public servant, even if they receive no pay or benefits.

That means veterans and reservists working full time in the private sector must first seek permission from the federal government before applying for a patent for their inventions.

John Reid, president of CATA, calls the decision a throwback to the 1950s, when the Public Servants Invention Act was first put in place. Reid said it goes against the federal government's current push for an innovation agenda.

Veterans 'in a catch-22'

"You catch our veterans in a catch-22, plus the companies that hired them, because now there's a business risk in terms of ownership of patents," said Reid. "So it's a total contradiction particularly dealing with veterans on a reserve list, it's not a very good message to send to them."

Reid said CATA has heard from veterans and industry leaders over the patent issue. Many defence manufacturers hire engineers and technologists who've acquired their skills while serving in the military.

With the recent ruling, companies must disclose their invention to the appropriate ministry and wait for the government's decision to either claim ownership or give approval for the applicant to proceed on his or her own.

Reid said that will slow the intellectual property process.

"Speed to market is important and government has never been known for its speed to market. You're putting two cultures together and that just won't work," said Reid.

CATA campaign

CATA has launched a campaign for action and a survey, seeking feedback from members, but Reid believes the problem should be easy to fix.

"I'd be very surprised if we can't get somebody to look at this and fix it. It seems fixable to me," said Reid who added he's already been in touch with the federal minister in charge of innovation, Navdeep Bains.

Louis Brown, a military veteran and president of NOR Environmental in North Bay, Ont., is at the centre of this case.

Brown retired from the Forces in 1993 and went on to start his own company developing specialized shelters and filtration systems used in the event of a chemical or biological attack. In 1999, Brown patented his shelter technology in both Canada and the U.S.

When he retired, Brown agreed to go on the supplementary reserve list. He was not paid, nor called into service, but his name remained on the list until 2009.

Patent infringement claim

In the meantime, Brown said he introduced his technology to officials in the Public Works department. But in 2009, the federal government contracted a U.S. firm to supply a product similar to Brown's shelters. Claiming patent infringement, Brown took the government to court in 2012.

The government moved to dismiss the case using the Public Service Invention Act, stating it already owned the patent because, technically, Brown was still a public servant when he filed for his patent in 1999.

Brown's company is now in limbo until the questions over his patent are resolved in Federal Court, so in the meantime he wants to warn other veterans who are on the supplementary reserve list.

Earlier this month the Department of National Defence said in a statement to CBC that right now it is assessing the recent court ruling, and will work with the Justice Department to determine its next steps.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/cata-calls-for-action-veteran-patent-dispute-1.3513130
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Re: Military vet battles government over intellectual property

Post by Rags on Wed 20 Apr 2016, 22:46

A little known act is the actual nature and command structure and who runs the military......it is not the public service we are not covered by that act nor is it DND or the Prime Minister. Its the Governor General. I used this in a legal case and won due to the fact we as military dont fall under any of those rules we fall under the GG. Civil Service act has noting to do with us.

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