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Pierre Cantin: engineering an IP Licensing skills renewal  

August 4, 2023


More than 30 years after he left the engineering field, Pierre’s professional roots have never been too far from the surface as he built himself a new career in the legal field.

Long before he became the lead intellectual property counsel at CCM Hockey in Montreal, Pierre’s lifelong fascination with all things technical initially drove him to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. However, after a few years in work, he decided to change direction and left his job as a research and development project engineer, worrying he was becoming too specialized.

“I didn’t want to become an expert in a narrow technical field like helicopter blades and nothing else, so I thought the law would be a way to keep me being more of a generalist,” Pierre explains.

At law school, Pierre found himself drawn to complex and technical subjects like tax and IP law, but ultimately opted to develop a general litigation practice in the hopes it would feed his desire for variety.

Still, after a promising start in which he established himself in the litigation team of a prominent construction law boutique, Pierre was ready to make another career pivot.  

“I liked a lot of the technical aspects of litigation, but not the actual fighting. There are plenty of litigation lawyers who enjoy that part, but I was more interested in understanding the things that were behind the dispute, not the actual dispute” he says.  

The third time turned out to be the charm – professionally speaking – for Pierre, as he began practising IP law, first at a private boutique firm in Vancouver, and later as in-house counsel at a series of companies with significant IP holdings.

“It was the perfect blend; very technical, but with enough of the legal fun mixed in,” he says.

Pierre’s professional history came to the fore again in roles at fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power Systems and then at Bombardier Aerospace, where his minor in aerospace engineering dovetailed perfectly with his work handling legal issues related to the company’s extensive portfolio of patents, trademarks and other IP.

“I was a bit of jack-of-all-trades, doing anything IP: drafting patent applications, negotiating research and development contracts, and supervising litigation,” Pierre says. “The common thread through all of that was that they were in industries where I could fully understand the technology, which I believe is key.”

The early days of his current job at hockey equipment manufacturer CCM were dominated by longstanding litigation with an industry rival, but as the court case headed towards a conclusion, Pierre began looking for a way to bolster his broader IP knowledge and discovered OsgoodePD’s Certificate in IP Licensing.  

“In the first few years, I had barely touched IP licensing and we had a growing portfolio of hard IP, which is why I wanted a refresher at Osgoode,” he says.  

During his time on the four-day program, Pierre says he was struck by the quality of the teaching and the practical nature of the learning, which is reinforced  through a combination of take-home assignments and skills-based group work.

“It was very hands-on, and I really liked the fact that it was spread over a longer period, because it gives you some time to absorb the information and tackle the problems,” he says.  

Attendees at the 2023 version of the IP licensing course, which is set to run over several weeks in October and November, will hear from a faculty comprised of corporate licensing counsel in a variety of industry sectors, as well as top IP licensing lawyers in private practice.  

Pierre says it’s not just seasoned IP lawyers like himself who should be attracted by the opportunity to reinforce their existing knowledge and develop fresh approaches to IP licensing, since the program has plenty to offer younger counsel at the opposite end of the experience spectrum seeking to develop their expertise in the area.

“There is so much continuing legal education available right now, but most of it is very superficial,” he says. “What is great about the Osgoode IP Licensing course is not only that you have great profs, but there is a lot more substance to the content.”

Want to learn more about the Certificate in Intellectual Property (IP) Law?