With estimates of growth in the 20% to 30% range over the next five years, leading Canadian intellectual property boutique Bereskin & Parr is launching a new quantum technologies practice.
Quantum technology is a class of tech that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics—the study of the behavior and interaction of atoms and subatomic particles.
“Computing is the most frequently talked about [quantum technology] because the idea of developing a quantum computer to perform all sorts of competing tasks at a much faster rate is really common,” said Cameron Gale, the Toronto-based partner co-leading the new practice group with Louis-Pierre Gravelle in Montreal.
Bereskin’s quantum technology practice group will provide legal, patent and trademark services to companies developing quantum computers, quantum sensors, and other related quantum technologies, as well as those who are using quantum technology to improve existing products and create new ones.
Gale said he believes Bereskin is one of the first law firms to establish a formal practice group in this segment.
Gale said lawyers at the firm already have existing clients in the space, so the firm wanted to “pool together” that expertise and experience to “coordinate best practices” and offer clients the optimal professionals for their needs.
“Governments and businesses are putting a lot more focus on quantum technology, both in terms of [research and development] and in terms of investment,” he said, adding that the area is expected to grow fairly rapidly over the next few years.
According to a report published last August by Global Industry Analysts Inc., the value of the global quantum computing market will reach US$411 million by 2026, up from $112 million in 2020. The U.S., China, Canada and Japan lead the way in this sector, with the report estimating growth in Canada alone will be 22.6% over the next five years.
A report by Markets and Markets projects the global quantum cryptography market size will reach US$214 million by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 19.1%. The report said growing incidents of cyberattacks in the era of digitalization, increasing cybersecurity funding, rising demand for next-generation security solutions for cloud and internet-of-things technologies, and evolving next-generation wireless network technologies will drive the growth in this area.
The Bereskin team is working with companies that develop and design quantum computers and applications for quantum computers, Gale said.
“I’ve been working recently with a company that is involved in the development of satellite constellations and implementing quantum encryption technology into satellite communication,” he said.
The firm’s lawyers have noticed that many companies don’t protect their new IP assets, so particularly in the context of quantum technologies, Bereskin is working to “get companies to think about IP at the early stage.”
Managing IP early on helps companies cement their positions down the road, he added, but also provides protections against larger or more predatory companies in the space.
For now, most of the IP work on quantum tech relies on current legislation relating to IP, which tends to be slow to catch up to the reality of new tech, said Gale.
There are currently 17 members of the practice group based in the firm’s offices in technology hubs in the Toronto area, Montreal, and Waterloo—most of whom have advanced degrees in electrical and computing engineering or physics. Gale said he expects the group’s numbers to grow as other lawyers in the firm join.