By EDD K. USMAN, SDN, Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: Science, Digital & Current Affairs
SOME Filipino inventors are losing their inventions.
Other people, instead, are making money out of the products of the inventors’ curious mind.
That’s according to at least two inventors who made their case during the Inventors Forum on the Policies and Guidelines on the Implementation of Assistance to Inventors organized by the Technology Application and Promotion Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-TAPI).
It could be a case of, first, neglecting to apply for a patent with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPhl), or, second, a rush to cash in on their creation.
Both crucial mistakes some Filipino inventors are committing.
Or, third, a patent to cover intellectual property right (IPR) is taking too long before it is granted.
Does it mean government is not fast enough? Or the process really takes long?
IPOPhl said there are timelines for IPR and patent’s approval, if approval takes longer than the timeline, might be something is not right. Inventors then should holler.
These issues come as inventors have been clawing at the government for more support.
Well, here’s one kind of support, a vital advise.
The advise came from Director Mary Grace Cruz-Yap, who heads the Documentation, Information, and Technology Transfer Bureau at IPOPhl.
She urged Filipino inventors to first secure a patent for their inventions before making them public.
Inventors, she added, have a year (of exclusive ownership) from the time of public disclosure, beyond which they lose their Intellectual Property Right (IPR). Then, it “becomes prejudicial” to the inventor.
The IPOPHIL official presented a lecture at the forum held in Makati City, Metro Manila, on October 2, 2019.
Two inventors’ concerns drew IPOPhl’s advice.
First, it was inventor Salvador Flores who laid out his problem. He said he invented a shock absorber.
“I have a pending patent from IPOPhl (for a) shock absorber…first patent to register to IPOPhl…already lapsed. To tell you frankly, I was not able to benefit from that shock absorber,” he informed IPOPhl during the forum’s question-and-answer portion.
It looked like Flores’s invention was stolen or copied by another person who is already producing and marketing the product.
“I was not able to file a case. I am nothing. I can’t afford the lawyer’s fees. Can I still run after (them) when (the patent) already lapsed. They are selling it here in the Philippines,” he said.
“Patent is a private right, it is yours. We (IPOPhl) have no power to run after them. You have to be the one to prosecute. That must really be protected. It is your right,” the IPOPhl director said.
The second inventor, Dr. Richmond Santillana, president of maBuhay Wellness, and a member of the Filipino Inventors’ Society (FIS), told the forum he has been shipping products from his inventions to other countries.
He mentioned particularly a gadget that he invented, which makes capsules at only 10 percent cost, or less than 90 percent of other devices’ present cost. Imagine the savings.
Santillana said his gadget can produce 400 capsules of food supplement an hour and is already being commercialized in the country. He is selling the gadget at Php6,000, inclusive of herbal plants to make food supplements.
His problem? He has been selling the gadget to some countries and that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who bought the product are bringing them abroad.
“But I have no patents. I want to have an international patent for my products,” said Santillana.
The things is, an “international patent” is non-existent.
“Your fears have basis,” Cruz-Yap replied. “So, that’s what we’ve been saying, ‘protect yourself first.’ If you let it out to the public, you are at risk.”
She clarified that “there is no such thing as international patent, only territorial. Philippine patents only for Philippines, patents for (the United States), for the U.S. only.”
“Please go for patent protection first before disclosure (of your invention),” the IPOPhl official emphasized.
What she was driving at, apparently, was that even if a certain invention by a certain Filipino inventor has a Philippine patent, the invention can still be stolen or copied by anyone and make money out of its commercialization in another country where it has no patent.
On is website, IPOPhl has laid out in clear words the meaning of patent.
“A patent is an exclusive right granted for a certain period for an invention applied to a product, process or an improvement of a product or process which is new, inventive, and useful.”
Engineer Edgar I. Garcia, director and head of TAPI, agreed on the importance of technologies (or inventions) that should be protected by IPR.
Garcia further assured that TAPI is one with the inventors “as we provide enabling networks tailored for the needs in whatever stage of the commercialization pathway you are in as you grow and develop into a household name in your chosen industries.” (SDN)