This international law firm helps you protect, nurture and profit from your great ideas

Gowling WLG hosts a presentation on the essentials of intellectual property for life science companies on Oct. 6.


Good ideas are rarely, if ever, a bad thing. 

Bad things, however, can happen long before your good idea can become an everyday talking point. 

It’s at this intersection – where good ideas are born, but before they launch – that the team at Gowling WLG provides the expertise to springboard your project from research and development (R&D) to commercialization. 

Intellectual property (IP), including patents, are the lifeblood of the health and life sciences sector. B.C. has a vibrant sector developing therapeutic technologies and products, that depends on its IP for securing investment, forming strategic partnerships and bringing their products to market. 

But how does an idea gleaned in a university lab transition from the concept phase to a fully fleshed out product that can be brought to the marketplace? 

Those very concepts will be discussed at the Rosewood Georgia Hotel on Oct. 6 as part of a Gowling WLG presentation called, “From R&D to Commercialization: IP Essentials for Life Sciences Companies.”

The discussion will focus on the IP journey of a life sciences company from research to commercialization, covering different types of IP protection, patent requirements and obstacles, IP best practices in the field of life sciences as well as tips on how to align IP strategy to advance business goals.

The featured speakers include Dr. Sonia Ziesche, principal, patent agent at Gowling WLG; Wendy Hurlburt, president and CEO at Life Sciences BC and Tim Leaver, strategy and Danaher Business Systems Lead at Precision NanoSystems Inc. (PNI). Founded locally and recently purchased by a large multinational firm, PNI is the poster child for a successful journey from R&D to commercialization in the world of vaccines. 

“The people who’ll benefit from hearing what’s discussed are people who are anywhere on the trajectory from early startup to becoming a significant component of a multinational organization,” said Gowling WLG partner Brian Kingwell. “From early-stage companies to those who are pretty sophisticated organizations, all of them need to leverage intellectual property in order to succeed.”

Almost all early-stage companies in the health and life sciences sectors rely on intellectual property to give them a commercial advantage. Typically, it takes many years for a new drug, for example, to make it to market – an idea is there, but the product isn’t yet. The expert team at Gowling WLG captures the value in those ideas in patents as a way to give the company an avenue to future commercial success. 

“You need to lock up an area of intellectual property, an area of potential exclusively for you, at an early stage of your business,” Kingwell said. “And then, hopefully, you march along the road to raising money based upon your intellectual property, your ideas and your people to further the development of your product and then in the end, be acquired by a large multi-national or going public.” 

Patents will be the primary type of IP protection that’ll be covered come Oct. 6, but there is a subsidiary aspect of that discussion related to trade secrets. There are decisions to be made about whether your company should pursue patent protection for an idea, which necessarily involves publication so that those ideas can’t be kept secret. 

But lots of other innovation is happening that is maintained in secret – a crucial decision needs to be made along the way as to what to keep secret and what will be the subject of a patent application. 

“Most of the obstacles that we’ll talk about are other people’s intellectual properties,” Kingwell said. “Your competitors will have patents and you need to be mindful of whether or not you’re running a risk of infringing on competitors’ patents by proceeding along a particular commercialization route.”

Kingwell notes that an intellectual property strategy is a life-long plan for a company that’s best instigated from very early in the strategic decisions phase. 

“That avoids you from stepping into any trouble and allows you to choose the avenues that you innovate along and the kinds of products you bring to market in a way that avoids intellectual property problems,” Kingwell said.  “You need to know where you’re going next so the intellectual property fits with where the company is evolving. The closer we are to what a company is thinking, the better.”