8 things I learned developing a course for CPAs on IP; not being a CPA or IP expert…

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Putting together a course on intellectual property for CPAs, being someone with very little IP knowledge, and definitely not a CPA, was no small feat, but I am definitely proud of our end result: The Innovation Controller Course.

Putting together the course, the question I kept on being asked was…what does being a CPA have to do with IP? Well it turns out, it is a relationship that makes a lot of sense. CPAs have always controlled and protected tangible assets, so in our new economy – where ideas and innovation reign supreme – does it not make sense for CPAs to protect the intangible assets as well?

My biggest learning? 

  1. Capacity building is important, and the future of the profession

I am not a CPA myself, but after working so closely with them its clear they are concerned about the future of the profession and wondering how CPAs can add value in new ways. Knowing how to manage and protect IP will bring tremendous value to any organization, and continue to solidify CPAs roles in the new idea economy.

Some other stand out learnings:

  1. Canada is kind of bad at protecting our innovation.

But we’re getting better! Innovation minister (& LumiQ guest) Navdeep Bains recently introduced a patent collective to support entrepreneurs in protecting their IP. In fact, its run by Jim Hinton, who spoke to us about IP infringement.

  1. Telecoms are crazy about IP.

That swipe to unlock action you do probably 50 times a day? Patented until the cows come home. To understand the culture around it, we had a few former Blackberry employees, like former Chief Legal Officer Karima Bawa, talk about their experience with IP protection during the BB heyday.

  1. Talking Too Much Can Be Costly

Natalie Raffoul, Managing Attourney at Brion Raffoul, and a patent agent, shared horror stories about excited entrepreneurs sharing their ideas too quickly, and losing out on the rights to them. Knowing when and what to disclose is paramount!

  1. Getting sued for IP infringement? Avoid East Texas.

East Texas is super plaintiff friendly, which means many big companies take their cases down there. Samsung gets sued there so much they built a skating rink to encourage sympathy from jurors!

  1. Disneyworld is where Blackberry Messenger (BBM) was conceived.

BBM revolutionized texting as we know it, and the story of its inception is pretty remarkable. We were lucky enough to get the inside scoop on Chris Wormalds’ eureka moment.

  1. Patent trolls are real, and a threat to the patent system

While it sounds funny, patent trolls can do some damage, and bring a company to ruins. Jim Hinton teaches us the best defense before they come knocking on your door.

  1. When you put together a course, you will Google things A LOT

Google’s search page is protected by a design patent, which is why you haven’t seen copycats. Plus, all my targeted ads are now for IP lawyers. Thankfully, I now personally know a few.


What’s clear to me, after having developed this course, is that there is a real opportunity for CPAs to add to their professional skill-set by taking an interest in the field of IP. It perfectly matches with their core strengths, no one is doing a good job of it now, and it’s incredibly important for companies and for Canada. We’re trying to build a movement at Luminari, where CPAs are continually expanding their abilities, in both traditional and non-traditional ways. I believe the Innovation Controller course is an important step towards that goal. You can check it out here!

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