Student Paper Award

The Canadian Tax Foundation-Jean Potvin Award for Quebec 2012-13

Antoine Desroches

The winner of the Canadian Tax Foundation-Jean Potvin Award for the best Quebec student paper of 2012-13 dealing with an aspect of Canadian taxation. 

Mr. Desroches’s paper, “A Comparative Study of the Canadian and European Taxation of Intellectual Property Income: Has the Time Come for a Canadian Patent Box?” was written for the Master of Law program, Taxation option, at hec Montreal, for which he received both an excellence mention and the Ernst & Young and hec Foundation prizes. Mr. Desroches also obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University in 2005 and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Montreal in 2008. He has practised tax law at Norton Rose Fulbright since his admission to the Quebec bar in 2010.


Canada is recognized worldwide for its generous research and development (R & D) regime, which aims to stimulate economic benefits and spillovers as well as tax revenues from intellectual property (IP). However, the regime’s tax policy objectives are not fully achieved. Indeed, there is an exodus of IP developed in Canada—in particular, patents and software copyrights—to jurisdictions where IP income is taxed at lower rates. Therefore, those jurisdictions benefit from tax revenues related to IP developed in Canada and often largely financed through its R & D regime. Essentially, Canada is buying R & D jobs without recovering the long-term economic benefits created by those jobs. 

Faced with a similar situation, some countries have adopted a tax regime known as a patent box. This regime, which is favourable to IP holdings, is generally implemented in addition to an R & D regime in order to spur innovation. 

The author analyzes the tax structures implemented by multinational enterprises to export and exploit IP without being subject to Canadian tax in the long run, as well as the technical features and the surrounding tax policy of foreign patent boxes. He also considers the opportunity for Canada to adopt such a regime, which, together with its R & D regime, would provide a significant incentive to multinational enterprises not only to develop IP but also to hold it in Canada.