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.