NRC's intellectual property (IP) policy

Table of contents

Policy statement

First and foremost, the NRC is responsible for managing its intellectual property (IP) to drive socio-economic benefits for Canada. The NRC will strive to extract maximum value from the IP that it develops and co-develops, and to ensure that the chosen IP protection and commercialization strategies support the current and future needs of Canada and of the NRC.


The purpose of this document is to provide a clear explanation of major features of the NRC's IP policy for organizations or individuals interested in working with the NRC as well as for NRC employees. The NRC IP policy applies to all IP the NRC generates and acquires and to all people who work for the NRC. The goals of the IP policy are to:

  • provide a framework for disclosing and managing specific pieces of intellectual property
  • provide a framework for the protection and management of the NRC's full portfolio
  • assure NRC clients that their intellectual property will be kept confidential and protected
  • ensure NRC staff members understand their obligations and responsibilities with respect to IP protection and use


The IP policy of the NRC reflects a number of principles that are consistent with its core functions and mandates. These principles are:

  1. The NRC intellectual property portfolio is a corporate asset.
  2. Responsiveness: The NRC will be responsive in meeting the current and future needs of Canadians and the Canadian industry. The NRC will develop, protect, manage and support the commercialization of technologies to maximize user benefits in accordance with the strategic interests of Canada, the NRC, and our clients.
  3. Accessibility: The NRC desires to work in cooperation with other organizations to efficiently provide benefits to Canada.
  4. Transparency: The NRC wants to develop and communicate IP management approaches and policies which are transparent, straightforward, and clearly defined for people who work for the NRC, our clients and collaborators. The NRC will also ensure that appropriate training is provided to its employees to allow them to carry out their roles.
  5. Timeliness: The NRC will support the timely transfer of technology created at the NRC for its use and the use of its stakeholders. As such, the NRC will put in place practices ensuring that all NRC employees disclose and assign IP rights in a timely manner, allowing for a timely evaluation and appropriate strategic management of the IP.
  6. Respect: The NRC will, to the best of its capability, respect intellectual property rights, its own and that of others. The NRC will ensure that its employees understand their obligations and responsibilities with respect to IP protection and use.
  7. Fairness: The NRC will ensure that its internal and external stakeholders are treated fairly and consistently; respecting rules, regulations and practices associated with the management and exploitation of intellectual property rights.


The president of the NRC, in implementing the objectives of the IP policy, holds his authority under the National Research Council Act and through the transfer to the NRC by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry under the Public Servants Inventions Act (PSIA) of administration and control of NRC inventions and patents.


The National Program and Business Services team, under the direction of the Vice President Business and Professional Services, is responsible for ensuring effective management of the IP portfolio in accordance with NRC policies and guidelines. The IP portfolio will be managed as a corporate asset for the benefit of the NRC.


All IP created by people who work for the NRC, while acting within the scope of their duties or employment, or made with facilities, equipment or financial aid provided by or on behalf of the NRC, will vest with the Crown. The NRC has full authority to manage, license or sell its rights.

The ownership, use rights and positions for background and arising IP for the NRC and its clients will be identified and properly protected in all NRC contracts.


NRC employees are obliged to disclose all IP deriving from their work, and are obliged to maintain an appropriate written research log. Specifically, NRC employees are obliged to file an invention disclosure statement using the Public Servants Inventions Act "Form 1" document in a timely fashion for any invention arising from their work, including the creation of software, and to execute all requested documents relating to assignment and protection of IP rights in any of his or her work for which ownership vests in the Crown.

Employees of the NRC must obtain advance approval for disclosing any IP outside of the NRC.

The NRC is entitled to require that all disclosure of the work and results thereof, performed by students as people who work for the NRC when engaged in research within NRC facilities or under supervision of an NRC employee, be delayed up to a maximum of (6) six months from the filing of a written invention disclosure ("Form 1") naming the student as an inventor. This delay will be used to permit the NRC to assess the work and to seek protection as it may, in its sole discretion, deem appropriate.



The NRC maintains an IP portfolio of technologies (owned, co-owned, and licensed in) that protects the NRC's freedom to operate and secures competitive advantages for future users of the technology.

All arising IP will be promptly disclosed and assessed. The assessment process shall take into consideration various factors such as its relevance to the NRC, the NRC's clients, benefit to Canada and commercialization potential. Resulting IP protection strategy will be determined, documented, and implemented.

The portfolio of existing IP rights will be re-assessed on a yearly basis to determine its continued relevance to the NRC and to NRC clients.

IP protection tools used by the NRC will include patent, copyright, trademark, official marks, plant breeders rights, industrial designs, and integrated circuit topographies. The NRC will also use trade secrets, when appropriate.

Exploitation of our IP

IP is a key element to facilitate successful technology commercialization and transfer. The IP will be central to all program design and the NRC will strive to use the appropriate tool to exploit that IP to maximize the benefit for Canada.

The NRC will engage with its clients and stakeholders through various types of agreements, such as but not limited to, service agreements, consortium agreements, collaborative research agreements, research services agreements and license agreements.

In certain circumstances, when it is in its best interest, the NRC may agree to transfer or sell its IP rights to a third party. Such arrangements require prior approval from the president of the NRC.


The NRC will vigilantly enforce its statutory and non-statutory IP rights. While reasonable efforts will be made to resolve issues through discussions and other means such as mediation or binding arbitration, litigation may be employed.


NRC IP policy - definitions

People who work for the NRC
are NRC employees, as well as:
  • students, other than Graduate Student Scholarship Supplement Program (GSSSP) students while working on approved GSSSP projects, that are working within an NRC facility and are either:
    • receiving compensation, other than salary, from the NRC
    • working on an NRC project that is not funded by an organization that is the employer or sponsor of the student
  • guest workers, other than students, that are working within an NRC facility and are either:
    • receiving compensation, other than salary, from the NRC
    • working on an NRC project that is not funded at all by the guest worker's employer
Intellectual Property
means proprietary and/or technical information and/or know-how, including of scientific and technical discoveries of any kind and in a form which is useful, or has the potential to be useful, and transferable and which may be protected under law by way, but not limited to, patents, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs, integrated circuit topographies, and trade secrets.
Background IP
means all IP that existed prior to the commencement of a research project.
Arising IP
means all IP developed during a research project.
Form 1
refers to the Form 1 prescribed in the Public Servants Inventions Regulations under the Public Servants Inventions Act ("PSIA") and is the form to be used for all internal invention disclosure under this policy, regardless of whether or not the discloser falls within the definition of a "Public Servant" in the PSIA.
means any communication, whether verbal, written, electronic or in any other form which could be read or heard by someone other than an NRC employee. Without limiting the generality of the forgoing, examples of disclosures include: the making available of presentations (posters, abstracts, talks, etc.) to groups without a physical means of preventing the entry or viewing by third parties, discussions with third parties or in public places, and submissions of manuscripts or grant submissions without a prior written confirmation that all information will be held in confidence.
means any legal entity with which the NRC has or seeks a legal agreement pertaining to the conduct of research, provision of technical services, or related activities, or access to facilities provided at or by the NRC.

Associated policies and legislation

The area of IP management relies upon a large collection of policies and legislation as a foundation. The following are some of the more pertinent pieces relative to IP management at the NRC, though this list is not by any means exhaustive.

  • National Research Council Act
  • Public Servants Inventions Act (PSIA) and Regulations (PSIR)
  • Financial Administration Act (FAA)
  • Access to Information Act
  • Surplus Crown Assets Act (SCAA)
  • Statutory Protection Acts: patents, trademark, industrial design, copyright
  • NRC Code of Conduct & Conflict of Interest Policy
  • NRC Policy on International Activities & Transactions

Treasury Board Secretariat policies

  • Transfer Payment Policy
  • Title to IP Arising Under Crown Procurement Contracts

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