Transfer Pricing Associates

Governmental Infringement of IP

post Friday June 21, 2013

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Governments have long had the ability to dramatically alter the landscape of a marketplace and how businesses function, but a recent suit filed by a company in Calgary is now setting how governments regulate the use of intellectual property at the center of IP news. While the government is tasked with protecting and compensating property and there are a great deal of regulations that aide governments in doing this, there seems to be a lack of protection for intellectual property. Geophysical Service Incorporated (GSI), is a data gathering company based in Calgary, Canada that has encountered a lack of protection provided by the government of its intellectual property.
GSI specializes in gathering marine seismic data by conducting expensive off shore seismic surveys in order to serve the petroleum and energy industry. The data that is collected by GSI offers critical insight into the potential petroleum reserves located off shore and is clearly extremely valuable and important for GSI’s business to be profitable. It is clear that GSI’s business is helpful for petroleum companies and generates a great deal of value for a wide range of stakeholders. While none of GSI’s activities or this scenario sound like they would lead to a lack of protection, GSI now faces a great issue with the governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In order for GSI to maintain their permits, the local authorities stated they were required to submit their data to the governing bodies. While this request is not unusual, what ensued is. After a period of 10 years in confidentiality, both governments released the data to the general public. Once the data became part of the public domain, it eliminated the potential for GIS to sell the valuable data to consumers, and consequently undermined their ability to make a profit on their IP.
Because of the damages caused by the government, GSI has now taken the regulatory bodies that were responsible, the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, Natural Resources Canada and the National Energy Board to court. The upcoming trial will surely address a current issue and most likely how governments handle similar situations in the future.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Image source: free digital photos
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