Mark Collins – RCN Canadian Surface Combatant: Intellectual Property Brouhaha

Further to this post,

Canadian Surface Combatant Procurement Process Re-Float: So What?

definitely not a “so what” here–trust in Irving?

Backroom battle underway over new frigate design data
Geek wars: Ottawa faces revolt among ship designers over intellectual property demand

A key behind-the-scenes battle, which could affect the future of the Trudeau government’s multi-billion dollar frigate replacement program for decades, has been fought this week in the back rooms of Ottawa.

It relates to an overarching demand by National Defence and Public Services for ship designers to hand over virtually all their intellectual property data for the complex combat systems that would be installed on the warships.

A copy of the draft request for proposals, obtained by CBC News, shows the federal government is asking companies competing to design Canada’s next generation of warships for all their foreground and background data.

Liberals noncommittal on number of frigates
Canadians won’t see price tag until 2019
Warship designers, government huddle

[See also: “RCN Canadian Surface Combatant Woes: Not Enough Dough“]

The government will be the owner of the information — including critical software coding — but will license it to Irving Shipbuilding, the prime contractor on the project [website here]…

A series of closed-door meetings took place this week involving federal officials and Irving representatives. Another series of meetings will take place in Halifax on Aug. 15-16 with ship designers who want to bid on the Canadian Surface Combatant program, which is expected to cost $30 billion or more.

Among the companies in line to provide an off-the-shelf design include British-based BAE Systems Inc.; DCNS, the French warship-maker; and U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin.

High stakes for taxpayers

The intellectual property issue is “huge,” according to several government and industry sources who spoke to CBC News on background because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The data is crucial not only for ship construction, but for the lucrative long-term maintenance contracts that will follow.

If the government doesn’t get the negotiation just right, it could cost taxpayers untold hundreds of millions of dollars down the road in licencing fees, and even restrict the military’s ability to update and use its own equipment…

The fear among bidders is not necessarily what Irving might do with data as much as who among the shipyard’s partners and consultants — including the U.S. naval warship architecture firm Gibbs & Cox — will have access to the licenced information [emphasis added].

In a statement, Irving Shipbuilding said it was committed to safeguarding the data.

“For the CSC program, discussions with Canada have only contemplated that any long-term IP rights will flow to Canada, with Irving Shipbuilding having a right to use CSC IP to the extent required to satisfy its CSC design and build contracts,” said spokesman Sean Lewis.

“There has been nothing discussed that would put Irving Shipbuilding at an unfair advantage or unique position during the operational life of the ships.”..

Very relevant to what the ships’ role will be:

NATO and Russian Sub Threat: World Needs More Canada

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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