Thursday, December 20, 2007

European Patent Cost to be Reduced

Good news to inventors who want to own a European patent. London agreement is set to cut post grant translation cost which usually takes up to 40% of the entire cost to own a European patent.

Previously, in other to enforce an European patent, the patent document needs to be translated into the national language of the countries concerned. Imagine paying for the cost of translation of patent documents for eight European languages. If the London Agreement is enforced in 2008, than the patent document in the official language of EPO, which is English, French or German is sufficient to have extensive protection in Europe. Patent holders will benefit from significant savings in translation cost. For more information, please refer Patent Information News Issue 4/2007 by EPO.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Origins of Ketchup and Kicap

Tomato sauce is popularly known as ketchup. According to Wikipedia:

"Originally this sauce was made out of pickled fish. It originated in Eastern Asia; the word ketchup is used in Chinese, Malay and Indonesian (e.g., kecap manis - traditional spelling 'kitjap manis'). English and Dutch sailors brought the Asian ketchup to Europe, where many flavourings, such as mushrooms, anchovies and nuts, were added to the basic fish sauce."

Ketchup does not necessary means tomato sauce. Ketchup may refer to a general term for sauce. Sauce in Malay is called 'kicap'. It is typically made of mushrooms or fish brine with herbs and spices. Mushroom ketchup is still available in some countries. Now the term 'kicap' is mainly used for thin sauce.

Ketchup is a Cantonese term where 'ke' means tomato and 'tchup' means sauce. It was reported that Kuala Lumpur was once the main hub for manufacturing ketchup. The factories were located at Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.

Top 10 Greatest Invention Ever

Found the following article on the Top 10 Greatest Invention by Softpedia. I had a laugh learning about the inventions, especially the one that made the number one spot. Guess what is it?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

International Halal Mark

Muslims in US are organizing an online petition for International Halal mark. Details can be viewed at

Can Malaysia license its Halal mark worldwide?

Patent Search Tutorial

Found this informative video to search US patent. It also briefly introduces the format of a patent specification.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Distinguishing Invention and Design

Occasionally, I get questions to explain the difference between invention and design. Both invention and design are used widely to refer new product or new technology. However, from a technical point of view invention and design are two separate concepts. Invention refers to functional aspect of a product while design refers to visual aspect of a product. Invention of a new product or new technology may refer to one of the following criteria:

1. new physical feature.
2. new combination or arrangement of old feature.
3. new use of an old feature.

Shoppers used to hand carry baskets which can carry small amount of goods. Goodman introduced a shopping trolley (or cart), which is a large wire basket with wheels, so that shoppers can buy more goods without being burdened by the weight of the goods. He introduced a new way for people to shop. He introduced a new function for a large basket with wheels. The shopping trolley is an invention.

The shape, configuration, pattern or ornamental aspect of an article is referred as design. Since the shopping trolley has new visual appeal than it is also considered a new design.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands

Local financial institutions lead the Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands conducted by global brand consultancy, Interbrand. Maybank led the pack valued at RM9.6 billion. Public Bank at second place is valued at RM6.9 billion, CIMB at sixth place is valued at RM3.4 billion and Hong Leong at eighth place is valued at RM3.1 billion. Telecommunications institution are also highly valued in the study. Maxis is third valued at RM5.3 billion, Celcom is fifth valued at RM4.1 billion and Digi is tenth at RM2.1 billion. Gaming giant Genting is fourth, valued at RM4.6 billion and entertainment network Astro is seventh, valued at RM3.3 billion. Auto car maker Perodua is valued ninth with RM 2.4 billion, indicating Malaysia's success with Myvi. The valuation involves public disclosed audited accounts, hence privately owned brand is not included in the valuation.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

National IP Day

National IP Day was launched by PM Abdullah on 27 April 2007. He expressed his hope that the patent office will speed up patent granting. "I believe that if the approval process could be simplified, more producers and innovators will be interested to apply for patents. This will enhance research commercialisation and subsequently, the country's innovative capability. Hence, Malaysians will one day be known as technology inventors rather than technology users only," he added.

PM Abdullah also wishes that the private sector make use of local innovations for commercialization. I will like to propose that the patent office set up an open database for prospective industries to view Malaysian patents. The database can serve as a marketing effort to promote Malaysia as a R&D hub. Advanced countries, including Singapore allows their patents to be viewed. I have prepared patent specifications for universities and research organizations. Most of the patents are good innovations. If the patents can be easily accessed than the commercialization effort can be intensified.


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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Selecting Patent Agents or Patent Lawyers in Malaysia

According to WIPO Handbook, patent agents are usually professionals trained in the field of science and technology to prepare patent specifications. Patent specifications define the scope of the invention. It is a legal document as comprehensive as a sales and purchase agreement when you buy a house. However, when the Patent Act is introduced, Malaysia has very few persons trained as a patent agent. Lawyers were engaged as patent agents and the practice is continued until today. Patent agents need to pass a patent agent examination set by MYIPO.

The early batch of scientist trained were chemist. A chemist is desirable to prepare specification for any field of technology due to its versatile background. Now, most of the genuine patent agents have at least a chemist to prepare patent specification. However, with the robust advancement of technology, professionals from other science background is needed to prepare specification. Consider the field of your invention. Who do you think is more suitable to prepare your invention? A physicist, chemist, biologist or lawyer?

Patent lawyer refers to a person who can represent clients in court. They have passed the Malaysia bar exam. They are multi-purpose lawyer who practice in various field of law or specialised in IP. Usually lawyers who choose to specialise in IP take the Malaysia Patent Agent examination.

MIMOS wins Frost & Sullivan Growth Excellence Award

MIMOS, Malaysia's research institution wins Frost & Sullivan Growth Award for advancement in precision agriculture. MIMOS is actively engaged in applying MEMS sensor technology in monitoring crops quality and the processing of raw materials. The research is jointly conducted with UPM. Datuk Abdul Wahab, CEO of MIMOS, says advancement in MEMS allows sensor and wireless technology to be incorporated in crops to monitor the health of crops. For details visit

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Community Projects vs Private Projects

Apache is one of the greatest product by community projects. It is a web server program contributed by programmers who collaborated in a community board to build a reliable and stable web server. Anyone can modify and improve the codes of the program. Programmers voluntarily contributed codes to the program. It started the open source revolution. Are open source a boon or bane to the development of technology? I believe both community projects and private projects have its own merit. Private projects are important because it fosters entrepreneurship and employment. Community projects are important because it allows people of similar interest to collaborate and contribute to the community.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

IP from National Projects; MP3 from Germany

If a breakthrough is found, who will own the IP? IP of national projects were discussed in the AIPPI forum. Cases from Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Singapore were presented. Each country is distinctive with considerations for national interest, project initiator and inventors rewards. Do you know that MP3 is a result of one of Germany's national project?

The coding of MP3 is owned by Alcatel-Lucent and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. In Aug 7, 2007 a federal judge reverses a USD1.5 billion judgement against Microsoft for including MP3 coding in Windows Media Player. The decision seems to ease fears on other MP3 provider such as Apple and RealNewtworks.

First Malaysian in Space; to conduct Medical Experiments

Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft was launched in Kazakhstan last night at 9.21pm Malaysian time. The honour of Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, an orthopedic surgeon, being the first Malaysian to be in space is well received in Malaysia. He is scheduled to perform medical experiments in space. He will conduct research which can lead to significant short- and long-term advances in many fields such as:

Cells in space: To study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on cancer cells with the aim of learning more about cell behaviour and activity, and tissue repair;

Microbes in space: To study the effects of microgravity and space radiation on bacterial growth, drug resistance and the genetic mechanisms controlling them; and

Protein crystallisation in space: To crystallise two proteins to study their molecular structures, and obtain new information for future industrial applications.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

At last... Patent MY131072A

At last... patent MY131072A with my name on it as an inventor. My first attempt as an inventor. The application was filed in 1 Nov 2002. I was a researcher (employee) so I have to assign it to my employer. I learnt about patents and that is how I got myself involved in the patent industry. Later, I was head hunted by a patent lawyer to draft patent specifications. Since than I never look back having patents running in my blood and brains.

Hit by Computer Programs

I am constantly asked to prepare patent specifications for computer program. Our patent regulations follow the EPO's recommendation which allows computer programs to be patentable if it achieves a technical effect. I refer the US MPEP for computer program and it has a detailed explanation and classification showing the type of computer programs which are patentable. Allow me to summarize my interpretation in my own words. A computer program is patentable if it describes an UNKNOWN process to solve a technical problem. I highlight the UNKNOWN to my clients because computer programs are usually written with known process. The act of turning a known manual process into a software does not make the computer program patentable. For example, known mathematical models turned into software are not patentable even if it solves a problem. However, if an UNKNOWN model is disclosed than the process will be patentable. A classic patent for computer programs will be Dell's patent which enable online ordering of customized personal computer.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Patent Filings in Malaysia

Singapore is known to be a top patent filing destination after Japan, Korea, China and India. In the AIPPI Forum, I promoted Malaysia (MY) as a popular national phase filing destination. I highlighted the following points in my discussion:
- MY is a PCT member
- MY acccepts English application as offiial language. Hence, no translation is needed
- MY acknowledges search report of US, AU, EPO, JP, and KR granted patent. The MY application can be fast tracked to grant.
- MY court widely uses English as official language
- MY has a one year grace period for novelty. Does not practice absolute novelty.
- MY economy lies in the following industries: electrical and electronics, rubber, palm oil, automotive, petroleum and plastics.
- MY has a population of 27 million

AIPPI Forum 2007

Phew.. Just return from Singapore after attending AIPPI forum, an international forum for IP practitioners. This is the first time I'm attending such an event. I was overwhelmed by the number of delegates, more than 400 people from all over the world. I made friends with delegates from USA, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Brazil, and ... the list goes on and on. It is a mind blowing experience for me to exchange name cards for the past three days until I run out of name cards... arrgh! I'm lucky to be able to attend this event due to the short traveling distance between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Congratulations to Singapore for successfully hosting the event. Some of the delegates expressed that this is the first time they are traveling to Asia. Some delegates manage to squeeze a short vacation in Malaysia. Hope to see you guys again next year in Boston for AIPPI Congress. Will update on what I learned from the event later.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why USA has a Different Patent System?

Patents are governed by national laws. We follow WIPO, JPO and EPO recommendation to acknowledge 'first to file' patent. However, USPTO acknowledge 'first to invent' inventors. I took some time to understand why US has a different patent system until I read 'America's Different Patent System: the Reason US Outperforms the World' by Robert Rines. Rines defended the need to acknowledge the 'first to invent' principle by citing that patent laws are created to protect and acknowledge inventors, particularly individual inventors. The proposed harmonization of patent laws protect the interest of large corporations but put individual inventors and university inventors at a disadvantage. American patent history and statistics are cited in the report to support his stand. US gain the advantage of provisional patent so that the inventors can refine their patent application. He claims that his counterpart in Japan and Europe has premature patent application to fulfill the 'first to file' criteria. I acknowledge that the same situation exist in Malaysia. I have individual inventors telling me that they can't capitalize their patent because the patent only has concepts to build prototype.

Proposed Patent Incentive in Budget 2008

Part of PM Abdullah's speech budget is as follows, "The Government will step up efforts to intensify research, development and commercialisation activities, particularly the commercialisation of home-grown R&D. In 2008, a sum of RM230 million is allocated for the Science Fund, RM300 million for Techno Fund and RM546 million for research institutions. To simplify and expedite the disbursement for agriculture R&D, a sum of RM300 million will be transferred from the balance of the 9MP ceiling of the Science Fund and Techno Fund to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Government will continue to support R&D and commercialisation activities. Presently, the royalty distribution of commercialising R&D is 50% to research institutions and the balance being shared between the research institutions and the researchers. To promote commercialisation, as well as provide further incentives to researchers, the rate for royalty payment to researchers will be increased to 80% and the balance for research institutions.

Technology Licensing Offices (TLOs) have been established at institutions, such as SIRIM and Universiti Sains Malaysia. These TLOs have been effective in coordinating R&D activities and patent applications. More TLOs will, therefore, be established in other research centres and public universities."

The latest budget 2008 has a lot of incentive for smi, education, training and research. Education, training and research are essential to create a quality pool of scientist and engineers. However, there is no mention of patent incentive for individual inventors. We have talented individual inventors in Malaysia who struggle to invent and patent their invention. Individual inventors have limited resource to start their journey. History has shown that individual inventors, such as Bell, Eastman (Kodak), and Ford, are creators that stimulate economy and create job opportunities. I hope the Malaysian government will recognize the contribution of individual inventors by providing incentive and grants to individual inventors to patent their inventions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

50th National Day

Malaysia celebrates fifty years of independence on 31 August 2007. There are numerous songs composed to celebrate our sentiments towards national day. Lyrics and events are listed on:

Of all the songs listed, I love '31 Ogos' the best. The classic was sung by Sudirman, one of the best singers in Asia.

I will be joining a 1400 person mammoth performance at night on August 31st. It will be broad casted live on national tv.

To Market Local Research

In our Ninth Malaysian Plan, our efforts to elevate our human capital has seen huge fundings of research and development of up to RM5 billion in our local institution of higher learning. Most of the research are shown in local exhibitions such as National IP Day (HHIN), ITEX, Pecipta and MTE. I have been to most of the exhibitions to find happy and proud inventors.

It is a dream for inventors to find their inventions in market. Hence, the research and invention findings need to gain exposure. UKM and UPM have make use of the internet to expose their research on the following website:

I appreciate UPMs commitment in highlighting their patents on their website. It is a common practice for patent office to highlight their countries patent activities by publishing their patents on the internet. However, our MYIPO has a restriction on online patent search. It is a deadly blow to our local research scene because we have bright research and inventions without adequate exposure to the world. I hope MYIPO can remove the restriction to allow our research and inventions to be exposed to the world.

Genuine Effort to Combat Video Piracy

Do Malaysians support video piracy? The following video advertisement shows a new perspective of Malaysians towards video piracy.

Pecipta Shows Hidden Treasures of Malaysian Universities

On 10-12 Aug 2007, twenty three local institutions showcased more than 500 inventions in Pecipta, an exposition of research and inventions of institutions of higher learnings. It shows the keen interest of local institutions in innovating their way from a teaching university to a research university.

Congratulations to USM for bagging five gold medals to top the medal award. Some of the notable inventions are a herbal based anti malaria product and a DNA kit for rapid detection of cholera

I am from USM.