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IP-Watch interns talk about their Geneva experience in summer 2013. 2:42.

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9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    A Closer Look Into A WIPO Regional Workshop: Making An Instant IP Whiz

    Published on 10 December 2012 @ 3:38 pm

    By for Intellectual Property Watch

    Manila, Philippines – Another destructive typhoon was battering southern Philippines last week, but this did not stop the majority of the delegates coming from the provinces near the affected areas from flying to the capital to attend what organisers touted as a trailblazing programme that has the potential to raise awareness of sophisticated intellectual property tools and policies at the grassroots level in developing countries.

    Reoper Cagayle, a faculty member at the Northern Negros State College, a small, vocational agricultural college in Western Visayas – a region located south of the capital – said the list of speakers for the workshop was impressive. He told Intellectual Property Watch he was hopeful at the outset of the event that he could bring some new knowledge home with him at the end of the three-day workshop.

    A first-timer to a World Intellectual Property Organization workshop, Cagayle admitted that he came with little knowledge on IP tools and policies, adding that he was told his school produced just one patent on food processing, with the school failing to monetise it after the grant.

    Ricardo Blancaflor, the director general of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, said most of the country’s universities and colleges and their faculty lack exposure to IP. He cited the results of a study done two years ago, in which out of a thousand science projects and theses in Philippine universities, 27 percent were found to be patentable but ended up not being protected due to lack of information on the IP system.

    “They don’t know much about IP. We have a lot of innovations that are happening in the universities that are not entering the IP world. Many of them are still in the ‘publish or perish’ mode, and that is what we want to change,” Blancaflor said in an interview with Intellectual Property Watch. The phrase “publish or perish” is used to refer to the common practice among local academic institutions here to publish immediately upon completion their works in scientific journals and other publications, and as a result throw them into the public domain, making them no longer eligible for patent protection.

    Breaking the Habit

    The workshop from 5-7 December is part of the two-year-old programme of the Philippine IP Office called the Innovation and Technology Support Offices (ITSOs), which aims to demystify and democratize the patent system by building a network of support offices in strategic areas and institutions in the country. For this particular programme, the Philippines has chosen to focus on universities and colleges with strong programmes in science and technology and engineering.

    The ITSO project is the local spin-off to WIPO’s Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs), a Development Agenda-bred programme that aims to “provide innovators in developing countries with access to locally-based, high-quality technology information and related services.” More details about the TISCs are here.

    Blancaflor said his office has set a target to grow the network of schools to 84 by year-end, out of an estimated total of 300, with 17 schools from region 6 of the country (Western Visayas) and nearby provinces becoming the newest members to join the network. Western Visayas is one of the areas affected by Typhoon Pablo, the strongest typhoon to enter the country this year, incidentally just two days before the start of the workshop.

    On the first day of the workshop, the Philippine IP Office signed memoranda of understanding with the 17 universities and colleges, and complementary agreements with the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges.

    The Philippine IP Office also signed agreements on the further development of the ITSOs programme with the international organisation Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), South Korean technical IP solutions and services provider Worldwide Intellectual Property Service Co., Ltd. for the use and access to a patent database, and with Ideaspace Foundation, Inc. for a grant to a chosen university in the ITSO network.

    An ITSO university or college gets training support from the Philippine IP Office, with the latter helping them set up its own IP office. They also teach appointed academics in the office how to get started with the school’s own IP policy, how to draft and file patent applications, and how to use or commercialise the patents. This frees the schools from hiring expensive patent lawyers and business consultants. For this programme, WIPO’s role is to hold the workshops and provide the experts.

    “Hopefully, this will help address the brain drain in universities,” Blancaflor said. Here, it is common for home-grown academic talent, researchers and scientists, particularly those coming from state-funded institutions, to either join the private sector or leave the country to seek better opportunities. He noted that universities and their faculty, scientists and researchers could eventually profit from the patent system through royalties once successful commercialisation of university patents takes off.

    When asked on how receptive universities and colleges are to the programme, Blancaflor said: “They are very receptive. Of course, in the beginning there were some resistance because they didn’t know any better. But after we started with one, everybody wants to become a member.”

    With the programme just two years old, Blancaflor said it is already making inroads as proven by the fact that six patents have already been filed since the program started.

    During the workshop, it was evident that IP as a concept and as a tool for development is fairly new among the country’s universities and colleges. Even the University of the Philippines, the premier state university in the country which dates its long history to the early part of the American colonial period in 1908, has embraced IP only recently.

    Elizabeth Pulumbarit, legal counsel for UP’s Technology Transfer and Business Development Office, told Intellectual Property Watch in an interview that as of its last audit, her office was only able to tally 40 patent applications. With the recent changes to its laws, such as restricting public access to student theses and granting bigger incentive to inventors, she said that the university is hoping that the number would improve. Recent legal changes also have allowed the state university to be able to put up two spin-off companies that will commercialise results of university-funded research. The companies are targeted to start operation by next year.

    Philippine academic institutions’ lackluster performance in the area of IP is due to a confluence of many factors. Topping the list is the fact that, in general, the national budget for education remains low at 2.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) for this year, a little more than a third of the United Nation’s minimum recommended national investment on education at 6 percent. Lack of funding is also a factor for higher education institutions, particularly state-owned colleges and universities. Also, most of the state-funded institutions are prohibited by their charters from engaging in business activities such as setting up spin-off companies.

    In addition, in a practice that is not unique to the Philippines but also happening in most universities around the world, Yumiko Hamano, WIPO senior program officer for innovation, told the delegates at the workshop that universities tend to work in their own. “Thirty percent of the research are already redundant, they are already done elsewhere and already made available free of charge on the internet.”

    IP off the Pedestal

    Similar to other developing countries, the volume of patent activity in the Philippines is still low and with the activities dominated by foreign applicants who want to protect their imported inventions in the country.

    Data collated from the Philippine IP Office showed that the number of invention patent filings in 2011 was 3,010 from non-residents and 186 from resident applicants. Patents granted to non-residents for the same year were at 1,129 and 6 for residents. Compare these numbers, for instance, with more developed Asian neighbour Japan, which in 2010 received 344,598 patent applications and registered 222,693 patents.

    Onyeama: IP Volume not the Only Measure of Development

    Geoffrey Onyeama, WIPO deputy director general for development sector, said the volume of IP activities alone in a country is not a sufficient tool in validating the strong link between IP and development.

    “It is true that at the moment that IP is skewed heavily in favour of industrialised countries. But this does not mean that IP is not a tool that can be useful for developing countries. We are seeing more and more activities in developing countries. The fact of the matter is creativity is universal; developing countries have creative people as well as industrialised countries,” Onyeama told Intellectual Property Watch in an interview.

    The big challenge for developing countries such as the Philippines is to create an environment to increase the use of IP for development. “Developing countries have to put in place appropriate infrastructure to help take advantage of the IP system,” he said, adding that needed infrastructure includes, among other things, technology transfer offices, appropriate regulations and policies and increased capacity.

    And on an international stage such as Geneva, an additional challenge for developing countries is in the area of training negotiators. A native of another developing country, Nigeria, Onyeama said: “The challenge for us is to identify what our interests are, what our goals are and how we can negotiate to get the best out of the system. Everybody is fighting for themselves, and you can’t expect that the more advanced countries to spend their resources fighting for our interests. It is for us to fight for our own interests.”

    At the end of the first day of the workshop, delegates were given a hypothetical case on an IP problem in a university setting, which may presented a challenge to solve in a single day the next day.

    Before leaving the room, Cagayle of the Northern Negros State College said the first day was informative, but noted that finding business partners for university inventions remains daunting. Rommel Gador of the University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City shared the same sentiment when asked, adding that another challenge is convincing the school management to implement the necessary changes outlined in the workshop.

    Their reactions suggest that at the bottom of the IP pyramid, addressing the fundamental concerns is key in the successful diffusion of sophisticated international policies such as technology transfer.
    On the next day, some delegates may find the problem in the assigned case easy to solve and some may not. But for most of them, there’s only one thing that they can be sure of – that tough tasks await them when they go back to their schools.

    Maricel Estavillo may be reached at maricelestavillo@gmail.com.

     


    Leave a Reply

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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