Thursday, December 17, 2009

FICPI Shenzhen Symposium: Made by China

China aims to shift from producing 'Made in China' products to 'Made by China' products. It is indisputable that China is the worlds factory; many goods are produced in China. China produces 80% of worlds clocks and watches. However, China only enjoys 10% of the gross revenue of world clocks and watches. Hence, China is recognizing the importance of patent and intellectual property protection to increase the value of goods produced.

The symposium was held to update patent practitioners around the world on the recent 3rd amendment China's Patent Law. There are more than 240 delegates at the symposium, China itself having 130 delegates. Delegates from Taiwan and Hong Kong is classified in the attendees list along as participants from China. As expected, most of the Chinese delegates come from Beijing.

Patent provides protection for invention or design according to Chinese laws, similar as US laws. A typical patent is identified as 'Invention Patent' to distinguish it from 'Design Patent'.

Some of the amendments introduced:
- definition of prior art to include any technology that has been known to the public in the country or abroad before the filling date.
- definition of novelty means that the invention or utility model does not belong to prior art and before the date of filling, no one has filed with SIPO. There is no grace period, hence, absolute novelty policy.
- direct source and primary source of genetic resource need to be declared in patent applications.
- patent for design requires explanation of the product design.

A major concern of foreign delegates is the effectiveness of Chinese patent laws. How enforcement and courts prosecute patent infringement is also discussed. Enforcement and courts are active in major cities. Case can be viewed online in Chinese.

Monday, December 7, 2009

China Subsidizes Patent Applications

China provides subsidy at central government level and local government level for patent applications.

Beijing provides a sum of one million yuan in support of the patent applications in the city. It will solely be distributed by Beijing Intellectual Property Rights Bureau. All Beijing enterprises, units and institutions under the central government (including army units) in Beijing and residents who apply for patent rights are qualified to apply to Beijing Intellectual Property Rights Bureau for patent application funds. Patent funds are available for the application fees of invention, products of new type or design, as well as fees for invention examination and maintenance.

A special fund will focus on subsidizing foreign patent applications, the type of patent protection of which is the same as that of Chinese invention patents. Each patent application subsidy project will support applications in not more than five countries or regions with up to 100,000 yuan, except for major innovation projects.

Shanghai has put forward a regional intellectual property rights strategy, Shanghai Municipal Intellectual Property Rights Outline 2004-2010. It aims at making Shanghai an energetic center for innovation, patent transforming, and a metropolis of powerful and sound intellectual property rights protection. By 2010, Shanghai is expected to have a synchronous growth in patent application, with 150 invention patents for every one million people on average. All companies located in Shanghai, without exception, may apply for the patent subsidy under the following conditions:

- Their products have wholly-owned intellectual property rights and are in accordance with the state and the local industrial trend.

- The new technique takes a leading position internationally and can pass the new product appraisal within three years.

- The new product can bring in better economic and social results.

Chen Zhixing, head of the Shanghai Bureau of Intellectual Property Rights, said the new measures for patent subsidy were seasoned with the fierce competition in international intellectual property rights. The outline is crucial for Shanghai to upgrade its competitive ability. It is of great significance for the metropolis to seek quicker development in intellectual property rights.

Managing Patent Costs

Guriqbal Singh Jaiya and Christopher Kalanje of WIPO authored an informative article on patent costs. The article is published in the SME division of WIPO.

The following topics were discussed:

1) Information Search. It is prudent to perform some information search prior to contacting a patent professional.
2) Patent versus Trade secret versus Defensive Publication
3) Cost of drafting a patent application. The choice of professionals to work with are discussed as well.
4) Subsidies or grants
5) Patent office fees
6) Role of IP audit
7) International patenting costs
8) Translation costs
9) Managing patent portfolio
10) Partners to share cost, risks and profits

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Revised PCT Fee for 2010

The following International Search Authority (ISA) has announced that the search fee for PCT will be revised from 1 January 2010:

Korea KRW 1,300,000 (44% increase) from KRW 900,000, approximately MYR 3,772 from MYR 2,432 for applications filed in English. The official fee announced by MYIPO for November is MYR 3,163. The official fee charged by MYIPO is usually higher than the official search fee to take into account exchange rate risk and bank charges. If the November fee is used as a guide, the estimated search fee in 2010 for Korea is MYR 4,555. The search fee for applications filed in Korean remains the same at KRW 450,000.

The following ISA search fee remains the same.

Australia AUD 1,600 unchanged, approximately MYR 5,076 and officially MYR 5,134 in November.

European Patent Office (EPO) EUR 1,700 unchanged, approximately MYR 8,700 and officially MYR 8,916 in November.

Korea ISA is popular among PCT applicants from Malaysia due to its competitive rate. Applicants from Malaysia have a choice of Australia, EPO or Korea to be nominated as ISA. Other ISA offering competitive search fees are Austria EUR 200 (MYR 1,024), China CNY 2,100 (MYR 1,100), Japan JPY 97,000 (MYR3,770), and Russia RUB 13,500 (MYR 1,583). China signed an MOU with ASEAN this month to increase IP cooperation. We hope that China will be one of the ISA authorized by MyIPO for ISA. We also wonder if MyIPO has any dream to become an ISA someday.

We encourage applicants to file PCT by 31st December 2009 to avoid the fee increase.

Friday, November 20, 2009

DAP gives go-ahead to Rocket cafe

The DAP central executive committee has given its approval to a group of party members and supporters to set up the Rocket United Cafe in SS2/63 here and use the party’s logo on its signboard, said the head of secretariat for the DAP secretary-general’s office, Foo Yueh Chuan.

She said the approval from the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) was secured for the cafe’s signboard and business premises on Aug 18, adding that the objective of the cafe was for the party to increase its reach to Malaysians.

“It is also to make available services such as voter registration and the registration for state benefits, such as the Mesra Usia Mas and the Tabung Warisan Anak Selangor,” she said in a statement here yesterday. -The Star

Monday, November 9, 2009

Geox SpA

The founder and president of Italy’s largest footwear brand, Geox SpA, shares about his true calling – designing and marketing shoes.

MARIO Moretti Polegato grew up in a family that had been in the wine business for three generations. He even studied wine technology at the University of Ferrara in Italy.

He is the founder, president and biggest shareholder of Geox S.p.A, Italy’s largest footwear brand and the world’s second largest footwear brand in the lifestyle casual leather shoe category.

The story goes that one day in the 1990s, after he finished promoting his family wine at an exhibition in Reno (not far from Las Vegas), he went for a walk in the desert. To soothe his overheated feet, he used his Swiss knife to cut holes in his sneakers’ rubber soles. That was his eureka moment.

“Later, when I came back to Italy, I introduced a new (shoe) technology. I utilised a special material that we call the membrane, which is water-proof and breathable at the same time because it is made with millions of micro-pores,” Polegato says.

“These pores are smaller than a drop of water. The vapour from our skin is 700 times smaller than a drop of water. So perspiration goes out through the pores but water (from outside) won’t come in.”

Polegato had created the world’s first breathable rubber-soled shoes.

Immediately he patented the technology in Italy, and today he has patented it in other countries as well, covering Europe, Asia and America.

Not everyone shared Polegato’s enthusiasm, however. “I offered this technology to the large footwear companies in Italy, Germany and America, but incredibly, nobody believed in me.”

In the end he decided to produce the shoes himself in Italy.

He spent three years to find a partner and set up Geox in 1995.

Explaining the name, he says Geo is Greek for earth, “because when you’re walking, the best walk is when you walk barefoot – feet on the ground. X is a technology symbol.”

Polegato started Geox with just five employees, all from the Montebelluna area, which is about 7km from Crocetta del Montello.

The employees were assigned specific responsibilities, from marketing to production. Today, 14 years hence, Geox employs directly and indirectly 30,000 people (including those employed by companies contract manufacturing its products) and is listed on the Milan Stock Exchange.

“Entrepreneurs should invest more in innovation, collaborate more with universities, and invest more in young people, because this is the key to win against the competition in the future,” he says.

Polegato, who has taught on intellectual property in various universities, emphasises the importance of creativity. “An idea,” he states, “is worth more than a factory.”

Polegato believes that everyone can walk in his footsteps and be as successful.

“Everybody has the possibility to repeat my experience, my story, because everybody has a brain that can be utilised.” -StarBiz

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shanghai Rules in Favor for Adidas

Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People’s Court issued verdicts for two IP infringement cases at one time.

In the case of Adidas vs Zhonglian and Bailuchi, the latter was charged 20,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan compensation, respectively, and were required to stop infringements and publish declarations approved by the court in future editions of the Xinmin Evening Paper.

Adidas registered the "three bars" trademark for its sneakers with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce on March 17, 2000. After realizing two companies called Bailuchi and Zhonglian had infringed its trademark rights, Adidas went to Shanghai No 2 Intermediate Court, and asked for compensation and an apology.

After a hearing, Shanghai No 2 Intermediate Court sided with Adidas. The other companies that were sued had used three bars similar to those used in the Adidas trademark for their sneakers, the court ruled.

In another case of trademark infringement, the court ruled that Zhu Jingjing sold counterfeit Gucci, Dior and other famous brand goods on Taobao, China’s online commerce site. Zhu was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 5,000 yuan. -China Daily

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Intensifying Research, Development and Commercialization

This is an excerpt of 2010 budget speech which concern patent, trademark and research:

Currently, expenditure on R&D activities is at 0.6% of GDP, well below the United States at 3%, South Korea 3.5% and Taiwan 2.4%. To shift towards a high income economy, we need a strong foundation in research, development and commercialisation (R&D&C) activities. Therefore, to strengthen R&D&C activities, the Government will undertake the following measures:

First: Rationalizing all research funds and grants to be more effective to achieve set targets;

Second: Establishing a National Innovation Centre supported by a network of innovation excellence centres under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education;

Third: Integrating R&D activities with patents, copyrights and trademarks registration to ensure R&D&C processes are implemented more effectively. The cooperation between patent and research agencies will expedite the commercialization of research findings; and

Fourth: Providing small and medium enterprises with tax deduction on expenses incurred in the registration of patents and trademarks in the country.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tax Deduction for Registration of Patents and Trademarks

Under the Income Tax Act 1967 (as amended), expenses incurred on the registration of patents and trademarks in the country are deemed to be capital expenditure and not allowed as a deduction for tax purposes.

However, as the government's objective is to promote innovation and intellectual property developments among the small and medium industries (SMEs), it is now proposed that expenses incurred in the registration of patents and trademarks in Malaysia be allowed a tax deduction for the purposes of computing the chargeable income of the SME.

The registration expenses would include fees or payment made to the patent and trademark agents registered under the Patents Act of 1983 and the Trade Marks Act of 1976.

SMEs are defined as companies resident in Malaysia which has a paid up capital in respect of ordinary shares of RM2.5 million and less at the beginning of the basis period for a year of assessment (provided that fifty percent of the paid capital in respect of ordinary shares of the company is not directly or indirectly held by a holding or a subsidiary company or a related company that has a paid up capital of more than RM2.5 million).

SME in the manufacturing and manufacturing related service industries and agro based industries would include enterprise with full time employees not exceeding 150 persons or annual sales turnover not exceeding RM 25 million; and in the service industries, primary agriculture and information and communication TECHNOLOGY [] industries, enterprises with full time employees not exceeding 50 persons, or with annual sales turnover not exceeding RM 5 million.

However, the time frame for this deduction is limited to only 5 years i.e. from the year of assessment 2010 to the year of assessment 2014. - Seah Siew Yun, Thornton, The Edge

Monday, October 26, 2009

WIPO Magazine

WIPO magazine is a bi-monthly magazine to update readers of WIPO activities. The magazine shows how intellectual property, creativity and innovation is working to change peoples live around the world. It is written from the perspective of users and owners of IP in mind.

The WIPO Magazine can be accessed or subscribed free of charge.

Currently WIPO is conducting a survey to seek topics of interest to improve the magazine.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thailand Accedes to PCT

Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Commerce, Mr. Alondkorn Ponlaboot, on September 24, 2009 deposited his country’s instrument of accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. Thailand is the 142nd contracting state of this multilateral pact that facilitates the filing of patents in multiple countries. The treaty will enter into force for Thailand on December 24, 2009.

The accession by Thailand means that in any international application filed on or after December 24, 2009, Thailand (country code: TH) will automatically be designated, and as it will be bound by Chapter II of the Treaty, will automatically be elected in any demand for international preliminary examination filed in respect of an international application filed on or after December 24, 2009. Also, as of that date, nationals and residents of Thailand will themselves be able to file PCT applications.

In a meeting with Mr. Ponlaboot, Mr. Gurry welcomed Thailand’s accession to the PCT which he said was “an extremely important step” that helps make the treaty a “more global and attractive system.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

China accounted for 43.1% of worldwide ID applications

At 15.3%, the growth rate of industrial design applications (some 621,000) in 2007 outpaced growth rates recorded for other IP rights. Since 2005, industrial design applications worldwide have experienced double-digit growth thanks largely to increased activity in China which accounted for 43.1% of worldwide applications.

In 2007, the share of total industrial design registrations by non-residents amounted to just 19.8%, which is below the equivalent shares for patents and trademarks. Industrial design protection is sought less frequently in foreign markets, because the products in question are geared mainly toward domestic commercialization.

Of the 2.7 million industrial design rights in force in 2007, residents of France accounted for the largest number (406,225). More than 250,000 such rights were also in force in China, Germany and Japan, respectively. -WIPO

China received over one-fifth of all trademark applications filed in 2007

In 2007, some 3.3 million trademark applications were filed worldwide reflecting a 1.6% increase over 2006. Preliminary data available for 2008, however, point to a possible decrease in trademark applications.

China received over one-fifth of all trademark applications filed in 2007 and the USA received nearly one-tenth of such applications, followed by Japan and the ROKorea.

Global trademark registrations rose in 2007 to approximately 2.2 million, representing a 6% growth rate. Increased registration activity in Brazil is largely responsible for the stronger growth in 2007 compared to the previous year.

Residents of China and the USA each accounted for around 11% of global trademark registrations in 2007. However, only a small proportion of trademarks registered by residents of China are protected in other jurisdictions, whereas about 43% of trademarks registered by US residents are protected abroad. Non-resident applicants accounted for some 35% of trademarks registered worldwide.

In 2007, around 16.4 million trademarks were in force worldwide with Japan and the USA together accounting for around one-fifth of these, followed by France and Germany, each having around 1 million trademarks in force. Approximately 125,000 of the trademarks in force in 2007 were first registered prior to 1960, reflecting their sustained commercial value. -WIPO

China replaced the EPO as the fourth largest office in terms of issuing patent grants

The USPTO, which has issued the highest number of patents since 1998, was overtaken in 2007 by the patent office of Japan. The patent office of China replaced the EPO as the fourth largest office in terms of issuing grants. The five largest patent offices (the patent offices of Japan, the USA, the Republic of Korea, China and the EPO) accounted for 74.4% of total patent grants.

Some 6.3 million patents were in force in 2007, with residents of Japan and the USA owning approximately 47% of this total.

In 2007, at least 4.2 million patent applications were pending around the world. The USPTO accounted for around 28% of this backlog, followed by Japan, the EPO and the ROK.

In 2008, approximately 163,600 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications were filed, representing a 2.3% increase on 2007 figures. Applicants from the USA accounted for around 32.7% of all PCT filings. The PCT is an international treaty administered by WIPO, which makes it possible to file patent applications in a large number of countries by filing a single PCT application. Growth rates for PCT applications have decreased since 2005.

Utility models are an important alternative to patents in certain jurisdictions, typically entailing a less stringent inventive-step requirement. China received and granted the majority of utility model applications in 2007. Germany, Japan, the ROK and the Russian Federation also had a notable level of utility model activity. -WIPO

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Should 'Penang' be exclusively limited to the State Government?

The Star reported that the Penang state government has laid claim to the word 'Penang'. It is reported that Chief Minister Lim wants to avoid confusion that events carrying the Penang prefix is organized by the state government. The state wants every event which carries the 'Penang' prefix to be registered with the state government.

Private entities use the prefix Penang to indicate that it has a Penang origin. Events using the prefix Penang indicates that the event is being held in Penang. These are measures which indirectly boost 'Penang' as a brand.

Requiring the permission to use the prefix 'Penang' will limit the exposure and success of Penang brand.

Instead, the state should educate the public the use of the term 'Penang state government' and Penang state emblem to state supported events. Those who are found to abuse the term 'Penang state government' and Penang state emblem can be prosecuted by the state.

Automakers try to energize electric-car business

The race is on among the world's auto companies to make electric cars go farther on a single charge, bring the price down to compete with gas-powered vehicles, and give drivers more places to recharge them than just the family garage.

Electric is the big buzz at the 63rd Frankfurt Auto Show this week, and nearly every major automaker has at least one on display. Renault introduced no fewer than four electric models, while Tesla, the only company producing and selling purely electric cars, handed over the keys to its 700th all-electric vehicle, a blue Roadster Sport, to a German buyer at the show.

If the models unveiled Tuesday are any indication, the notion of electric cars as small, stunted boxes with little range is about to be junked.

"People have realized that ... electric vehicles don't have to be golf carts," said Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development for Tesla Motors Inc. "They don't have to be anemic little putt-putts."

The company's sleek, two-seat Roadster - which in the U.S. sells for $101,500 (euro69,500) - has a range of 244 miles (393 kilometers) on one charge. Its planned Model S, which will seat seven and has a 300-mile (483-kilometer) range, will go for $49,900.

Others automakers, including BMW, General Motors and Daimler, are also developing electric-powered vehicles, including hybrid cars that boast a small gas or diesel engine backed up with an electrical motor, and say the prices will drop as bulky batteries become smaller, faster to charge and easier to replace.

Daimler said it will put its first electricity generating fuel-cell car on the road by the end of this year, the B-Class F-Cell. It will also develop a high-performance electric sports car, its Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

Volkswagen AG will put its new E-Up! electric compact into production in 2013. VW did not disclose how much it will cost or when it might be available in the U.S. It said the battery will give drivers a range of around 80 miles, or about 130 kilometers.

Analysts expect global production of purely electric cars to expand rapidly in the coming years. IHS Global Insight forecast that it will grow from nearly 9,500 this year to more than 58,000 in 2011.

Electric cars generally run between 40 and 120 miles (60 to 200 kilometers) on a single charge, while taking anywhere from two to seven hours to fully recharge.

Analysts have long contended that a roadblock to the deployment of electric cars has been the lack infrastructure to ensure they can be charged, whether at home, at the office or at stations in the city or along a highway. Building that infrastructure could cost billions and billions of dollars.

Europe is likely to get charging networks faster than the U.S. because of its higher gasoline prices, greater population density and compact size compared with the United States.

In the U.S., Japan's Nissan Motor Co. has taken the lead, forming partnerships to bring electric vehicles and charging stations to Seattle, Tennessee, Oregon and elsewhere. For example, Arizona's Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. recently struck a $100 million deal to build charging stations for Nissan's planned Leaf electric car.

Elsewhere around the world, Renault Nissan has teamed up with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Better Place, which is building a network of charging stations and stands in Israel and Denmark and plans to do the same in Australia. Drivers will be able to plug their cars in or swap out their depleted batteries for freshly charged ones.

Better Place said the networks could operate like cell phone service, with customers buying a certain number of miles in advance or getting an unlimited amount for a set fee with a contract.

To help bring Germany up to speed, its government plans to spend some euro500 million ($730 million) on a plan that aims to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2020. The figure includes euro170 million for battery research.

Analysts say it will take at least a decade to see if electric cars can keep pace with, or surpass, gas-powered automobiles. The massive, sensitive, costly and fast-depleting batteries that take the place of internal combustion engines are expensive to produce, as well.

"The industry needs to continue to overcome the obstacles of extended range, price and impact on the grid if we're going to be able to deliver a better experience than what consumers currently get," said Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place. -StarBiz

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

High Level of PCT Fees

Respondents of PCT survey, complained of the high level of fees charged to small and medium enterprise. Some of the respondents prefer a differentiated fee structure, similar to small-entity fee advocated by USPTO.

Currently, individual inventors of third world country, such as Malaysia enjoy a 90% fee reduction for PCT filling fee. Americans and Europeans which participated in the survey did not enjoy the fee reduction. The respondents wished that small and medium enterprise can enjoy some form of fee reductions.

The most frequent complain identified in the survey highlights the timeliness delivery of search and examination report. Some comments called for fee refunds when reports are sent late.

The respondents would also like to see more reliance and acceptance of PCT search report and examination results by more national Offices.

The survey was conducted online by WIPO. The report can be accessed here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

McDonald's loses trademark fight against M'sian McCurry

US fast food giant McDonald’s lost an eight-year trademark battle to prevent local restaurant McCurry from using the ‘Mc’ prefix in a precedent-setting judgment by Malaysia’s highest court.

The Federal Court ruled Tuesday that McDonald’s cannot appeal against another court’s verdict that had allowed McCurry to use ‘Mc’ in its name. The owner says McCurry, which serves Indian food, is an abbreviation for Malaysian Chicken Curry.

The ruling by a three-member panel of the Federal Court ends all legal avenues for McDonald’s to protect its name from what it said was a trademark infringement.

McDonald’s will have to pay RM10,000 to McCurry, a popular eatery in Jalan Ipoh on the edge of Kuala Lumpur’s downtown. McDonald’s lawyers refused to comment, except to say the company will abide by the judgment.

McCurry lawyer Sri Devi Nair said the ruling means McDonald’s does not have a monopoly on the prefix ‘Mc,’ and that other restaurants could also use it as long as they distinguish their food from McDonald’s.

“This is a precedent for everyone to follow,” he said. The Appeal Court said McCurry’s signboard has white and grey letters against a red background with a picture of a smiling chicken giving a double thumbs-up, in contrast to McDonald’s red and yellow “M” logo. McCurry also serves only Indian food, not competing with McDonald’s Western menu, the court said.

McDonald’s began operations in Malaysia in 1982 and has 137 outlets in the country. -- AP

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kodak: An Invented Term

The term Kodak is an invented term; the best arrangement of alphabets for a trademark. Invented term has the strongest chance for being registered due to its distinctiveness. Remember that trademark is suppose to help consumers to associate a brand with its product origin.

On this day, September 4, 1888, George Eastman applied for the registration of Kodak, prior to the founding of Kodak Company in 1892. The letter "K" had been a favorite alphabet of George Eastman. Together with his mother, he devised the name Kodak with an anagram set. He used three principal concepts to create the name:

1) It must be short
2) It could not be mispronounced
3) It could not resemble anything else or be associated with anything other than itself.

The 'Kodak' trademark is a successful brand because it is short and simple. It uses only two syllables to pronounce. Consumers would have low chances of mispronouncing or misspelling the term. The third principle resonates with trademark laws; that a mark should be distinctive.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Arguments Against Pre-Grant Publication

Some opponents to pre-grant publication have argued that any disclosure of a patent application prior to the grant of the patent is unfair. Specifically, it has been argued that pre-grant publication unfairly destroys the secrecy of an invention and therefore deprives the inventor of his/her trade secret rights should the application fail to issue to patent. The publication of a patent application is tantamount to the publication by a government of the confidential information of the patent applicant. While the patent applicant agrees to this when an application is filed, the patent applicant is provide with the choice of filing for patent protection and agreeing to pre-grant publication or not filing a patent application and risk loss of control of a new technology which can not be maintained confidential on a long term basis. The thoughts of the patent law revision committee in the Netherlands in the 1950’s balanced this by suggesting that publication occur after the search is received. Once the search was considered, a patent applicant would have time to determine if the patent process should be continued or abandoned (in which case a patent application could be withdrawn from publication).

It has been argued that the 18 month time period is a disadvantage to small inventors because they often need a longer secrecy period for "consolidation of the invention idea and the completion of its possible applications". For example, early publication of an application can allow "patent flooding" by competitors, especially large corporations. Patent flooding is a practice where competitors attempt to limit the scope of a patent application by filing several subsequent applications "around" the claims of the original. As a result of pre-grant publication, small entities may not be able to protect themselves from "secondary products" created by large competitors from the teaching in a published application of a small entity. Thus a large competitor may be able to work off of the research and development of a small company and be first to launch new products.

Other arguments advance in opposition to 18 month pre-grant publication include claims that submarine patents are no longer a significant problem in modern patent systems, and that international harmonization merely for its own sake is not necessarily a good thing. - FICPI newsletter

Arguments Favoring Pre-Grant Publication

A major advantage of pre-grant publication is that it reduces uncertainties involved in product or process clearance searches. If a patent application is not published until it issues to patent, then a company that proposes to introduce a new product or commence using a new process will only be able to evaluate potential infringement issues based on issued patents. Pending patent applications would not be available to be considered. Further, as the pendency period for patent applications is currently increasing in many countries, then the period of uncertainty would be increasing without pre-grant publication. Pre-grant publication shortens this period of uncertainty.

It has also been argued that pre-grant publication may stimulate ideas and promote innovation, as future inventors may be inspired by or motivated by the disclosures of the patent applications that become publicly available. For example, patents and patent applications can be valuable technical documentation that can be used to assist in the development of new technologies by documenting process that work or new apparatus that may be used.

Further, it has been argued that disclosure of pre-grant applications could reduce inefficiencies caused by duplicate inventions. A company may view the patent applications of its competitors and alter its research and development activities to lines of inquiry that are not being pursued by its competitors. This can result in the avoidance of two companies developing similar technologies and the consequential infringement suits that may arise and cause a delay in new products or processes being commercially adopted.

On a similar point, it has also been argued that the early disclosure of advances, which occur due to pre-grant publication, will stimulate new ideas and promote invention in promising fields of research. Early publication will provide a record of promising areas of research and result in additional research being undertaken in such promising areas.

Proponents of the adoption of pre-grant publication as part of the laws of the United States have also argued that pre-grant publication is a necessary step toward the international harmonization of patent laws. Further, it has been argued that harmonization may lower trade barriers and may be particularly valuable to United States companies that would otherwise face substantial costs dealing with several different types of application processes.

Another argument advanced in favor of pre-grant publication of patent applications by the United States is the elimination of so-called "submarine patents". A submarine patent can be understood as a patent application that takes advantage of pre-grant secrecy (particularly in the U.S.) by maintaining broad claims in an emerging technology area in a pending application for a long period of time. When the particular technology at issue becomes economically significant, the submarine patent "surfaces" and is used to hold "new technologies as economic hostage". Mandatory publication of pre-grant applications can eliminate the threat of submarine patents and increase certainty in the marketplace. - FICPI newsletter

Origin of 18 Month Pre-grant Publication Period

The first reference to an 18 month time period has been traced to a 1956 preliminary report by a patent law revision committee in the Netherlands. This report suggested that patent applications should be laid open to the public within 8 months after the initial searching had been completed. As the initial searching was expected to be completed at 18 months from filing, publication should have occurred at 26 (18+8) months from filing. The patent law committee also suggested that pre-grant publication practices of the Scandinavian countries and the Federal Republic of Germany be taken into consideration when deciding on the appropriate publication time period.

By the early 1960s, portions of the Dutch proposal appear to have been referenced by patent law review committees in the Scandinavia countries which make reference to an 18 month pre-grant publication period in the Netherlands (as opposed to the 18+8 month publication period that was actually proposed). Contemporaneous patent law reform discussions in Germany described the 18 month time period as an element of the "Swedish proposal". Subsequent Dutch examinations of Scandinavian and German domestic patent laws would then reveal what appeared to be a regional consensus to adopt an 18 month publication period.

Following these discussions, the Netherlands was the first country to formally adopt an 18 month mandatory publication period in 1964, but it would not be the last. The Netherlands actions were quickly followed, and 18 month mandatory publication periods were instituted by Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Germany in 1968 and by France in 1969. Therefore, by the end of 1969, an 18 month pre-grant publication period was the consensus standard of these seven European nations.

The international publication provision of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), Article 21, was also drafted in the late 1960s. The preliminary publication provision contained in the 1968 draft made no reference to an 18 month publication period; however, the 18 month mandatory publication period appears in the 1969 draft version. No information has been located as to why the 18 month term was incorporated into the 1969 draft. The 1969 version of Article 21 was adopted at the Washington Conference 1970 and therefore incorporated into the published version of the PCT.

As a result of its inclusion in the PCT, subsequent attempts by states to harmonize their domestic patent laws with international standards have resulted in the domestic adoption of the 18 month mandatory publication period. - FICPI newsletter

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An electric car that will "talk" to power grids

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its future electric cars will "talk" to power grids across the country, part of an effort to drive interest in alternative energy vehicles.

The nation's second-largest automaker released details of a two-year collaboration with 10 utility companies as well as the Department of Energy on the design of a system that allows car owners to control when they charge vehicles and for how long.

Ford's first battery electric vehicle, the Transit Connect commercial van, will be available next year.

A battery electric Ford Focus compact car will go on sale in 2011.

"At the end of the day this has to be easy for our customer," said Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr., at a company round-table on electrification efforts.

"This can't just be an interesting science experiment. This has to be something that makes people's lives better and easier and that is what our dialogue is all about."

Utility companies say their grids already are ready to handle electric cars, although some drivers are likely to need additional equipment installed in their garages, depending on the vehicle's voltage requirement.

"The grid is ready now but on a lower technology basis," said Mike Ligett, director of emerging technology at Progress Energy Inc., a Raleigh, North Carolina-based energy company.

"We are not concerned about energy consumption, but more about when it's used."

General Motors Co. is set to release its Chevrolet Volt next year, a rechargeable electric vehicle the company says will get up to 230 mpg (98 kpl).

The Volt differs from Ford's forthcoming Transit Connect as the Volt contains a combustible engine, which kicks in after driving about 40 miles (64 kilometers).

Ford's Transit Connect will not contain a combustible engine and the number of miles a user can drive will be determined by the size of the battery Ford installs in the car, company officials said.

Specifics on the vehicle's driving range and price have not been released.

With connectivity between Ford vehicles and power grids in certain areas, owners can choose to recharge at off-peak times when electricity is cheaper, or when wind, solar or renewable energy is driving the grid, said Nancy Gioia, director of Ford's sustainable mobility technologies division.

"What we're doing is developing our capability."

Ford and the utility companies are testing the system and have logged 75,000 miles (120,695 kilometers) on a test fleet.

The goal is to have a network in place so drivers can recharge their cars at preset times at home, work or elsewhere.

The system aims to develop technical standards so that a car purchased and used in Michigan, can "talk" to an electric grid in New York if the driver moves or travels.

Vincent Dow, Detroit Edison's vice president of distribution operations, said there are "more questions than answers" about how electric car owners will seek to recharge their vehicles.

"Will they charge at home, or work?" he asked.

"What's the pattern going to be for them? We need to understand what the needs are going to be for consumers."

Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, said that although the nation's current electric grid could handle widespread adoption of electric cars, more things can be done to use energy more efficiently.

For example, drivers could recharge a car at 3 a.m. so it doesn't tax the grid and costs less. - AP

Monday, August 17, 2009

Flying taxi crashes on test flight

Newly-assembled aircraft Jetpod, by the British-based Avcen Ltd, crashed and burst into a ball of fire during a test flight from Tekah airstrip near here, killing its inventor Michael Robert Dacre, 53, who was piloting the aircraft.

The crash happened at 12.30pm Sunday. Dacre is also Avcen's managing director.

Avcen Limited Malaysia is based at Patimas Technology Centre, Technology Park, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur and Dacre had intended for the 8-seater flying taxi to be ready in 2010.

Taiping deputy police chief Supt Syed Abdul Wahab Abdul Majid said Dacre suffered severe burns and injuries and died at the scene.

The incident was witnessed by many residents, including retired soldier, Halim Hamid, 50, who lives in nearby Taman Saujana Jaya.

He said he was scooping shrimps to feed his pet fish at a disused pond about 50 metres from where the jet had crashed.

“Earlier, I saw it going down the runaway three times but it could not take off.

“However, on the fourth run, the jet took off into the air but at about 200 metres high, it shot vertically to the sky before veering to its left and then falling to the ground,” he said.

There was a loud explosion when it crashed but firemen who were at the scene managed to put out the blaze, he said.

Halim said the jet had been earlier transported in parts in a container to the airstrip about a week ago before it was assembled.

Police personnel at the scene were seen collecting the pilot’s burnt, dismembered limbs from the wreckage before sending his remains to the Taiping Hospital.

Some of the residents said a co-pilot had wanted to accompany the deceased on the test flight but Dacre decided to fly alone.

Several Royal Malaysian Air Force personnel were at the scene to check the wreckage.

Meanwhile, Bernama quoted Taiping Fire and Rescue senior operations officer Mohd Sobri Abdullah as saying that the fire and rescue personnel had been stationed at the airstrip since 8.30am on the request of the company.

He said the plane was at an altitude of 200 metres when it suddenly plunged to the ground and erupted into a ball of fire.

The fire and rescue personnel present provided emergency response but were unable to save the victim, he said, adding that investigations had commenced to determine the cause of the crash.

According to Wikipedia Jetpod is a design proposal for a very quiet aircraft that can take off and land in short distances (STOL), developed by Avcen Limited, a company formed in 1998 to promote development of the Jetpod.

A number of applications have been proposed, including as a military transport, an executive transport, and as a short to medium-range air taxi.

According to Avcen's publicity materials, the Jetpod's maximum speed is 550 km/h (350 mph, 300 knots).

It would need only 125 meters (135 yards) to take-off or land, allowing runways to be constructed close to the center of major cities, and would be sufficiently quiet to not be noticeable above city traffic.

The trip from Heathrow Airport to central London would take about 4 minutes and cost about $100. -TheStar

Saturday, August 15, 2009

EON Bank takes on a fruit-ful business outlook

WOULD one associate a bank with fruits? While the camel is allied with AmBank and the tiger with Maybank, EON Bank, which is familiar to all Malaysians as “the car bank”, could soon be recognised as a fruit-ful bank.

As part of its Project Quantum Leap (PQL) initiated in the last quarter of 2007, the bank has adopted a fruit concept to symbolise the refreshing change the bank will undergo to transform the banking experience for its customers.

“Fruits are synonymous with health. We chose fruits to symbolise financial health,” head of networking distribution and management Looi Kok Soon tells StarBizWeek.

It’s hard to miss the vibrant orange colour with the fruity concept of the bank these days, which personifies warmth and encourages greater interaction with banking management and staff.

Director of design and space analyst of interior design firm S.U.A, Ed Mun, was engaged by the bank under the EON Bank New Interior Design Concept programme.

He says the idea of a fruit theme was selected to capture people’s mindset and anchor their attention about EON Bank as a refreshed and modern-day bank.

“We did research and made a comparison with local and international banks. We found that orange was not a colour that was widely used in banks,” he says.

“We wanted a concept that matched EON Bank’s vision of banking made simple, convenient and adding value,” he says. -StarBiz

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Microsoft served Injunction over Word

Microsoft is served with an injunction and asked to stop sales of Word 2003 and Word 2007 in USA over a patent held by a Canadian company. A U.S. district court in Texas issued a permanent injunction which bars Microsoft from selling Word because it violates a patent held by i4i Incorporation. The court found Microsoft had infringed on the patent for its software that manipulates "document architecture and content."

I4i, a Toronto-based software producer, has been battling Microsoft over a patent related to Extensible Markup Language (XML). XML is a key software component of many websites as well as Word and other programs.

The judge also awarded the Canadian company damages of about USD290 million.

Microsoft, in a statement, said it would appeal the verdict. It must appeal within 60 days of the judgment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cybercities: Look abroad for inspiration

Malaysia can learn much from other world-class cybercities to further improve its own such developments, said networking giant Cisco Malaysia.

Its managing director, Anne Abraham, said a lot of technological improvements can be learned from looking at cybercity projects outside the country. “A good example is the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ),” she said.

IFEZ is a development project in South Korea to build a cybercity that is designed to create the most favourable business and living environments with the help of cutting-edge technology.

The projects currently underway there include the Songdo Convensia Convention Centre, which is being equipped with the latest in radio-frequency identification (RFID) card systems for controlled accessibility.

There are also cameras with voice-recognition capability and wireless Internet access in all areas of the convention centre.

Also being constructed is the Songdo International School which will use blackboard-sized touchscreen projectors and an interactive teaching software known as enVision Math, designed to reinvent the way students look at mathematics as a subject.

The software employs visual aids and allows students to work out mathematical problems on big screens — making it easier for the others to learn the methods.

Those developing cybercities in Malaysia could take a leaf from South Korea’s book, said Abraham.

She said South Korea is the world’s 13th largest economy but the IFEZ project is enormous even by South Korean standards. It is set cost the Seoul government US$41bil (RM147bil) and will engulf three regions near the city of Incheon by the time it is completed in 2020.

“The city is being built on financial sustainability, service blueprints, urban planning and green technology,” she said.

“According to our South Korean partners, the cybercity will contribute about 2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and create more than 300,000 jobs. This is certainly something Malasyia should be taking a closer look at.”

Cisco is providing advanced networking infrastructure and expertise for the construction of the IFEZ. It is also working with South Korean officials to create a business model and help with investment logistics.

“What we are trying to achieve in this city is self-sufficiency and for that you need to make it so that people can easily live and work there,” said the director of IFEZ’s u-city business division, Michael Byun.

“The ‘u’ stands for ubiquity. We want our technology solutions to be everywhere to facilitate people in their everyday lives,” he said.

Byun said the installation of an urban integrated operations centre will allow cybercity officials to consolidate different aspects of municipal management into a single system.

“Administration, transportation, facilities management, and disaster prevention are some examples of the various components that will come under the responsibility of the operations centre,” he said.

“Most importantly, the city is designed to be eco-friendly, utilising the most energy efficient technologies and techniques available.” - TechCentral

Thursday, July 23, 2009

E-Learning Content on IP

Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the Korea Invention Promotion Association (KIPA), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has joined forces to create an e-learning content on IP. The program, called IP PANORAMA helps SMEs to utilize and manage Intellectual Property (IP) in their business strategy. Topics covered include invention and patent, patent information and trademarks arranged in the following chapters:

1. Importance of IP for SMEs
2. Trademarks and Industrial Designs
3. Invention and Patent
4. Trade Secrets
5. Copyright and related rights
6. Patent Information
7. Technology Licensing in a strategic partnership
8. IP in the Digital Economy
9. IP and International Trade
10. IP Audit
11. Valuation of IP Assets
12. Trademark Licensing

We recommend all inventors and researchers to understand chapter 3 and 6.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Plant Varieties Act 2004

Malaysia is blessed with agriculture produce. Research is being carried out to increase the yield of agriculture produce. It is timely that New Plant Varieties Act be introduced in Malaysia to protect new plant varieties from such research.

The New Plant Varieties Act has been gazetted on 20th October 2008. Following this, the Plant Varieties Protection office will begin accepting applications for registration as from 1st November 2008.

A plant variety shall be registered as a new plant variety and granted a breeder's right if the plant variety is new, distinct, uniform and stable. On the other hand, if the plant variety is bred, or discovered and developed by a farmer, local community or indigenous people, the plant variety may be registered as a new plant variety and granted a breeder's right if the plant variety is new, distinct and identifiable.

1) The plant variety is new if on the filing date of the application for registration and grant of a breeder's right, the propagating or harvested material of the plant variety has not been sold or otherwise disposed of on a commercial basis by or with the consent of the breeder.

2) The plant variety is distinct if it is clearly distinguishable from any other plant variety, the existence of which is a matter of common knowledge.

3) The plant variety is uniform if, subject to the variation that may be expected from the particular features of its propagation, it is sufficiently uniform in its relevant characteristics.

4) The plant variety is stable if its relevant characteristics remain unchanged after repeated propagation or, in the case of a particular cycle of propagation, at the end of each particular cycle.

5) The plant variety is identifiable if it can be distinguished from any other plant grouping by the expression of one characteristic and that characteristic is identifiable within individual plants or within and across a group of plants; and such characteristics can be identified by any person skilled in the relevant art.

The grant of breeders right shall subsist for a period of twenty years for a registered plant variety that is new, distinct, uniform and stable or fifteen years for a registered plant variety that is new, distinct and identifiable. For trees or vines, the protection period is twenty five years.

This Act is similar as Copyright Act as it prevents a breeder for producing (copying) a protected plant variety. It is adapted from the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, UPOV.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Biotechnological Inventions

The production of wine or beer involves processes using living organisms. It is regarded as one of the earliest biotechnology invention.

Our patent act excludes plant or animal varieties to be patentable. Biological processes for the production of plants or animals are also not patentable. However, man made living microorganisms, microbiological processes and the products of such microorganism processes could be patentable.

In genetic engineering, scientists develop biological processes to modify the genetic composition of living organisms. A microorganism created by Chakrabarty were able to break down components of oil pollution in oceans and rivers. These microorganisms was the subject of a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court, in which modified microorganisms were recognized as patentable subject matter.

Other than solving the problems of environment, genetic engineering process may also be used in the modification of microorganisms for the production of new medicines. It may also lead to new opportunities for obtaining food and energy.

The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure, facilitates the processing of biotechnology inventions where protection is sought in various countries. A list of International Depository Authorities are also available.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Phison finds new growth area

NEVER in his wildest dreams did Malaysian Pua Khein-Seng expect to own one of the most successful information technology (IT) companies in Taiwan.

The 33-year old Pua is the president and one of the founders of Taiwanese pen drive maker Phison Electronics Corp, the world's number one in terms of market share for pen drives and products related to NAND flash memory.

It manufactures about 65 million to 75 million pieces of pen drive and memory controller a year and has a 35% market share globally.

Pua's success story started when he arrived in Taiwan in 1993 to further his studies in electrical control engineering in National Chiao Tung University.

“My plan was to graduate and go back to Malaysia to get a good job. To be an engineer with a salary of RM3,000 to RM4,000 per month – this was still good for 1993 standards,” he told StarBiz during a company visit in Taiwan.

However, fate had other plans for Pua who hails from Sekinchan, Selangor.

In 1997, a professor at the university offered Pua a salary of NT$5,000 per month to research and develop memory controllers for him. Pua then worked for the company after graduation.

Due to some friction in the team, Pua and some of his fellow engineers moved on to another company, a spin-off from the first.

“The original shareholders promised to invest in the spin-off company but the money never came and it closed in 2000. We decided to source funds from other investors and started Phison.

“We had no intention in the beginning to start our own company. We just wanted a place to work in,” Pua recalled.

Phison was set up in November 2000 by Pua and four engineers – a Malaysian and three Taiwanese – all from Chiao Tung University with an initial investment of US$1mil.

The name Phison was derived from the fact that five persons started the company.

Product development

Within six months, the young entrepreneurs came up with their first invention: a USB storage device called pen drive. Business began to boom and the company grew by leaps and bounds.

At last count, market capitalisation has grown to over US$700mil from about US$65mil when Phison was listed on the over-the-counter market in Taiwan in December 2004.

Despite their success, Pua and his partners – who are still involved in the company – realised that they would need to position the company strategically to weather a global slowdown due to the US subprime crisis and for continued business growth.

According to Pua, the way forward for Phison would be to focus on developing products based on NAND flash memory (electronic memory) applications.

“It will be the next big market for us from this year. We started supplying the product in a small way last year,” he said, adding that Phison was looking at manufacturing NAND flash memory for notebooks which currently used hard drives.

The hard drive usage makes them heavier, consume more power and crash easily.

“The use of NAND flash memory will reduce the weight and power consumption of the notebooks as well as make them more cost-effective to produce,” Pua said.

A NAND flash memory drive has the capability to hold and store data even when the power is off.

This makes it an excellent storage solution for many applications such as MP3 players, USB drives, removable storage cards and cell phones where mobility, power use, speed and size are the key factors.

Pua said Phison was also developing memory controllers for cell phones in collaboration with Japanese tech giant Toshiba Corp, a major shareholder of the company with some 17% stake.

Vertical integration

“We are also on the lookout for vertical integration,” he said.

“We have invested in two start-up companies – one involved in software development such as anti-virus programmes and application software for cell phones for NAND flash application and the other in semiconductor packaging. This will help add value to our products.”

Pua said Phison's investment in a 40% stake in the software company, which started one year ago, was less than US$1mil while its investment in the semiconductor packaging company was over US$10mil.

He expects the semiconductor packaging company, which started in March 2006, to be listed in the first quarter of next year.

“It is very profitable as it is supported by Phison, which owns a 25% stake in the company. The other shareholder is a US customer.

“Competition is very tough, especially with the lower cost producers in China; hence we are using vertical integration to add value to our products,” he said. - StarBiz

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MJ and Anti-gravity Lean

I am still saddened by the demise of Michael Jackson. Thinking of him, I have been listening and reading any materials related to my idol.

A friend of mine had the opportunity to watch his live concert in Kuala Lumpur. He recap that the most mesmerizing moment happened when MJ performed his anti-gravity lean for 'Smooth Criminal'. The crowd was awed and there were some questions raised on how he performed the lean.

I did some digging and found that MJ was awarded US patent 5,255,452 for devising a method for creating anti-gravity illusion. The props that enable the effect consists of pegs that rise from the stage and shoes with unique heels. The method enabled MJ and his dancers to perform the anti-gravity lean on stage throughout the world - with no strings attached.

MJ King of pop and 'dance' inventor.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Petronas remains top Malaysian brand

PETROLIAM Nasional Bhd (Petronas) retained its position as the top Malaysian brand this year with the highest brand value of RM10.7 billion, up from its last year's brand value of RM8.3 billion.

Genting Bhd also retained its second position by maintaining its brand value of about RM4.1 billion, followed by Tenaga Nasional Bhd, which jumped from 5th place with a RM3.5 billion brand value.

Budget carrier AirAsia Bhd has been picked out as the best performing Malaysia brand when its investment in multiple daring brand promotion activities successfully reinforced customers' awareness of its brand image.

Despite shrinking global air passenger traffic, the best performer among the country's top 50 brands carried 11.8 million passengers last year, up one-fifth from 2007, and its capacity rose by one-third to 18.7 billion. - Business Times

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scientists and researchers to get good payouts from Govt

Malaysia can expect more home-grown inventions as scientists and researchers will be given financial remuneration for their creations and findings.

Starting this month, those who carry out research and development funded by the Government will be paid RM15,500 if their work is approved and patented.

Creators will also receive benefits in the form of profit-sharing from the commercialisation of their products or technology, and be given equity in spin-off companies which will be set up.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said the move was in line with the introduction of a policy to commercialise intellectual property to motivate researchers, scientists and institutions to be involved in research and development to create new technology.

“We want to produce a conducive environment that will continuously encourage new innovations and findings.

“As it is, the level of intellectual property being commercialised is at a very low rate of 3.4% but we hope to double the percentage as we enter the 10th Malaysia Plan,” he told reporters after launching the policy yesterday.

Under the policy, each disclosure of invention will receive RM500 and the creator will receive an additional RM5,000 for each creation filed. Those whose work is approved and patented will be paid an incentive of RM10,000.

Dr Ongkili said creators whose products and technologies were commercialised would receive RM250,000 as initial profit.

He said that with the various incentives, Malaysian R&D creators have the potential not only to make a name in their respective fields but may also be millionaires from successful ventures.

Dr Ongkili said his ministry would formulate the national innovation policy that would help determine the country’s future plan in the fields of technology, creation, findings and innovation.

“We hope to have a draft ready by next year,” he added. -theStar

Big money from traditional medicine industry

ONE should not look down on the humble herbal industry in Malaysia, which of late has been attracting steady interest both in terms of consumers and investors following a global resurgence in the usage of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) treatment versus modern medicine.

Local herbs and plants that thrive in our backyards and rainforests and increasingly making their mark internationally include kacip fatimah (labisia pumila), pegaga (pennyworts or centella asiatica), peria (bitter gourd), misai kucing (cat whiskers), mas cotek (mistletoe fig), limau purut (kaffir lime), tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia Jack) and jambu batu (guava).

Pegaga is currently vastly commercialised for its antibiotic properties that support the immune system and is especially beneficial in treating a variety of skin problems.

Tongkat ali, meanwhile, is one of the most expensive herbal plants sold on the market and for good reasons too given its nickname as nature’s testosterone booster.

The shrub is very rare and some said searching for tongkat ali in the Malaysian jungle is akin to searching for truffles in France or Italy.

At the same time, many herb-based industry players are exploring ways to merge various herbal cosmetics, healthcare and services, biotechnology, food and natural medicine into a single tourism product.

Apart from direct herbal manufacturing operations, new market segments could be developed including home spas, herbal clinics and pre-and post-natal care using local herbal products.

In fact, the thriving herbal industry in Malaysia is expected to reach almost RM10bil in 2009 and likely to grow 8% to 15% annually in line with the growing acceptance for herbal based natural phyto-medicine globally.

The World Bank has also estimated that the global market for herbal-related medicinal products is poised to escalate to US$5 trillion in 2050 from about US$200bil in 2008.

Capturing 1% of the global market share by then could easily translate into a RM190bil industry for Malaysia!

Taking these facts into account, Malaysia is doubling its effort to position itself as a “rainforest herbal hub” where local and foreign companies can conduct research to develop more TCM products for healthare and other related applications.

At the same time, since early 2000, the Government has set up the Malaysian Herbal Corp (MHC) under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).

MOSTI also has three biotechnology institutes, namely Malaysia Institute of Pharmacetical and Nutraceutical, Malaysia Genome Institute and Agrobiotechnology Institute to work synergistically with industry players to lead the industry to greater heights.

Given that Malaysia’s rich flora and fauna support over 20,000 plant species, of which 2,000 plant species have been identified to have medicinal value, it is worthwhile for herbal-based industry players to seriously look at this thriving business opportunity.

Why not take advantage of the current mounting interest in natural product remedies as more and more people are becoming concerned over the side effects caused by synthetic drugs, the rising cost of healthcare and the failure of mainstream medicine to treat certain diseases? - Hanim Adnan, theStar

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Geographical Indications of Malaysia

Tenom coffee bean
Geographical indications (GI) is widely used in Europe to protect wines, spirit, cheese and chocolate products. GI is specifically related to a district or state's agriculture produce. As of April 2009, there are six registered GI in Malaysia namely Sarawak pepper, Sabah tea, Sabah seaweed, Sabah virgin coconut oil, Tenom coffee and Bario rice. Tenom is a rural town of Sabah while Bario is a part of Sarawak.

Sarawak pepper has a distinctive flavor and taste that has gained international recognition by chefs and gourmets as one of the most favorite pepper ingredients. There are various pepper products such as pepper candies and pepper perfume that won't make you sneeze.

Sabah tea is grown on Mount Kinabalu at 2000 feet above sea level. Tender leaves of amellia Sinensis plants used are certified as organic tea.

Sabah seaweed is cultivated at clear and unpolluted seas of Sabah. Sabah seaweed has high soluble fibre content that lowers blood cholesterol and lipid levels.

Sabah virgin coconut oil, to some researchers, is the healthiest dietary oil on earth. Clinical studies have shown that lauric acid, present in virgin coconut oil, has anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, making it a miracle healing oil.

The Tenom district is famous for its coffee, Tenom Robusta. The coffee is cultivated, and roasted with butter and salt in Tenom.

Bario Rice is regarded by the natives as the finest and best rice from the highlands of Sarawak. It is grown on cool climates at an elevation above 1,200 metres. It is believed to be the finest rice grains of the world. It is famous for its soft texture, fine and elongated grains with mild aromas and splendid taste.

GI is similar to trademark. It prevents agriculture produce of other regions to be passed of as a popular or quality produce. It is widely used to protect a quality agriculture produce of a region.

Friday, June 5, 2009

ASEAN Starts Project on Patent Cooperation

Heads of ASEAN Intellectual Property (IP) Offices announced in Cha-Am, Thailand the launching of the first regional patent cooperation project that will make it easier for entrepreneurs, particularly SMEs and inventors to obtain patents on their innovations in the region.

“Known as the ASEAN Patent Examination Co-operation (ASPEC), the project marks an important milestone towards realizing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and is in line with the ASEAN collective objective of providing effective and efficient intellectual property protection,” said Mr Kamel Mohamad, Director-General of the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia and outgoing Chairman of the ASEAN Working Group on the Intellectual Property Cooperation (AWGIPC).

According to Mrs Puangrat Asavapisit, Director-General of the Thailand‟s Department of Intellectual Property, the Project, which starts on June 15, 2009 “will not only support the "creative economy‟ in ASEAN but also boost SMEs in intra-ASEAN trade, especially exporters who will benefit from improvement in the current patent system. It aims to improve the turnaround time of processing patent applications and the quality of the search and examination reports among ASEAN IP Offices.”

Under the ASPEC, an applicant who files a patent application for the same invention in two or more ASEAN IP Offices can forward the examination report from the office that finished the examination earlier to the other IP Offices for their use as a reference in their examination process. The examiners of the other ASEAN IP Offices will not have to start the whole process of examination from scratch. This Project is a worth-while effort by the ASEAN IP Offices to increase their efficiency as well as avoiding the application backlogs. It neither requires any change to the existing law nor any signing of diplomatic documents. The findings of one ASEAN IP Office, however, does not bind the others.

ASPEC was first proposed by Singapore in 2008 at the 30th Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Intellectual Property Cooperation (AWGIPC) in Hoi An, Vietnam and drew participation of Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam IP Offices. Brunei Darussalam will be joining the Project as soon as its Patent Act is implemented. - ASEAN


Heads of ASEAN Intellectual Property (IP) Offices who met in Cha-Am, Thailand have
agreed to launch an online Directory of IP-related resources and services available in ASEAN Member States to serve as a useful and comprehensive “one-stop” resource for businesses and other interested parties.

Initially, the IP DIRECT will provide information pertaining to ASEAN Member States’ IP legislation, dispute resolution bodies, sources for grants/loans and government incentives for investment in technology and R&D, technology transfer/licensing offices, rights management organizations and IP awareness and public education.

Information in the Directory is organized along the framework of the IP value-chain, namely, invention/innovation, IP protection, IP exploitation and enforcement. Information is further sub-categorized under “Key Activities” for easy reference. Mr Kamel Mohamad,Director-General of the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia and outgoing Chairman of the ASEAN Working Group on Intellectual Property Cooperation (AWGIPC)said: “Information in the Directory will be organized in a user-friendly manner. Ease of use was a paramount consideration in the design of the directory.”

Atty. Adrian S. Cristobal Jr, Director-General of the Philippines IP Office and incoming Chairman of the AWGIPC said: “The IP DIRECT will benefit ASEAN businesses and other innovators in the region. To ensure its relevancy, we will be consulting ASEAN stakeholders regularly as we continue to populate the database with important information.”

Mrs Puangrat Asavapisit, Director-General of Thailand’s Department of Intellectual Property said: “The launch of the ASEAN IP Directory is timely in view of the move by ASEAN Member States toward an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. The Directory will assist SMEs to fully utilize the IP system in ASEAN and promote intra-ASEAN trade and investment.”

Singapore IP Office, as the initiator of this project, has completed the template for the Directory which will be hosted on the ASEAN website in English and is expected to be up and running in the coming months - ASEAN

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

SEAD Course

Was at Bangkok to attend SEAD, a workshop that emphasis practical work on patent drafting. The course is directed to teaching the art of drafting. Each lecture session is followed by an exercise, which is then discussed at a plenary session. By the end of a series of lecture, we were given four drafting exercises to work on over the following four months.

The tutors are David Carmichael from Australia, Dennis Drehkoff from USA, Karl Rackette from Germany, Simon Roberts from UK, and, Geoffrey Dekleine and Bob Hirons from Canada. We were exposed to drafting techniques used in various major jurisdictions. The course content is supported by FICPI Training and Education Commission.

This year there are 32 participants from all over South East Asia, including a participant each from Hong Kong, Denmark and India. Malaysia has 15 participants; the highest amount of participants in the course. There were a mix of patent practitioners, patent managers and lawyers in the course. Major IP organizations of Malaysia were represented at the course. Desmond Wee, the president of MIPA was at the course to promote MIPA membership to Malaysia delegates.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

600 inventions and ideas on show

MORE than 600 inventions and ideas in 24 industry categories were on display at the International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition 09 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre recently.

The three-day exhibition, organised by Malaysian Invention & Design Society (Minds), has been an annual affair since 1989.

Minds president Tan Sri Professor Emeritus Dr Augustine S.H. Ong said the exhibition was the marketplace for new ideas, inventions and innovations, and a bridge between interested investors, venture capitalists and manufacturers and the inventors, in the interest of commercialising their inventions.

“It opens the opportunity for all to network, build business opportunities as well as exchange knowledge.

“And, for a better understanding of intellectual property (IP), there is also an area at the exhibition where a panel of IP experts offer guidance on how to protect your invention,” he said in his speech during the opening ceremony.

Ong said the growth of inventive activities in Malaysia had been encouraging.

“In 1989, the inaugural exhibition showcased only 50 Malaysian inventions but in this year’s exhibition, the number of exhibitions exceeds 600,” he said.

Participants and delegates to the exhibition included those from Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“The number of successful inventors who manage to penetrate the commercial market takes time to grow. Over the past 20 years, 5% of the exhibitors have managed to bridge the gap to commercialism.

“The idea is to create more and more ideas so the chances of success are higher,” he said.

Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof launched the exhibition and toured the floor to view the creations. - the Star

Winners of National IP Award 2009

The winners of national IP Award are

IP Organization: Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Patent: Ahmad Fauzi Ismail of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Trademark: Mimos
Industrial Design: Shaharudin Busri of Mimos

Ahmad Fauzi won the award through his research product A Hybrid Mixed Matrix Composite Membrane

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dato’ Ir.Dr. Zaini Ujang said this current success makes UTM the first institution to win the award for the second time since being introduced in 2006.

UTM won the award after being the biggest contributor of intellectual property protection managed by the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) last year.

UTM filed a total of 131 products that received patent protection making it the biggest organisation to have product protection under the organisation category.

According to the list released by MyIPO, UTM ranks highest among research institutions, local universities and individuals that received patent failing. Trailing behind UTM is MIMOS Berhad with 110 patent filing, Universiti Putra Malaysia 53, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia 23, Telekom Malaysia Berhad 19, Universiti Malaya 18, Multimedia Glory Sdn. Bhd 14, Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia 12, Universiti Teknologi Mara 11 and Malaysian Palm Oil Board with 8 patents filed.

Zaini added that last year UTM submitted applications for 142 intellectual properties on various categories comprising 131 patents, 2 utility renewal, 1 industrial design and 8 commercial copyrights.

UTM also received 6 patent grants in 2008 which was filed the previous year.

Overall, until the end of last year, UTM managed to obtain protection for 1,071 products according to the 7 categories, a 70% increase compared to the previous year.

Zaini said the researchers’ success in producing various innovations is in line with UTM’s Key Performance Indicator in achieving the Research University status.

Intellectual Property Management and the commercialization and development of research products in Higher Education Institutions are a relatively new field in this country.

UTM was among the earliest universities to take initiatives by setting up a special committee to manage intellectual property, prepare policies and procedures, thorough work process to enhance research activities thus increasing the number of its intellectual properties.

He also added that UTM focuses on producing intellectual properties and commercializing research and development as these factors are the measurement of UTM’s research achievements. - UTM Today

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Follow Me builds strong following

WHEN Follow Me shampoo made its debut in the local market in the 1980s, many snickered at the choice of name. Today, its manufacturer Tohtonku Sdn Bhd is having the last laugh as the brand has built up a strong following, not just in Malaysia but also in most areas of South-East Asia as well as Hong Kong and Japan. Back then, the big bottle packaging and reasonable pricing made Follow Me a popular brand of personal care products for many housewives.

“Even now, consumers, especially housewives, probably still remember the big bottle of shampoo that the whole family could use for a long time,” says Jasper Lim, a director of Tohtonku and a third-generation Lim at the company.

Jasper says Follow Me was actually the name of an English language programme that his mum attended in the 1980s.

“My mum’s enthusiasm and loyalty to this programme struck my father that Follow Me could be a brand as he was looking for a unique name for his shampoo product. “And that was how the brand was born,” he tells StarBizWeek at the company’s office in Subang Jaya.

When Tohtonku started its new business of personal care products in the early 1980s, it only had Follow Me shampoo, followed by the shower foam. Later the company widened its product range to toiletries, skincare, oral care and other household products like dishwashing liquid and detergent under several brands such as Secret, Nano White, Nutox, Uber Men, Alaisyah and Oil Control. - The Star

Friday, May 1, 2009

The ‘c’ is back in McCurry

For years, Suppiah’s outlet was known as M Curry as he fought a suit filed in 2001 by the fast food chain to stop him from using the ‘Mc’ prefix, claiming the name could cause confusion and lead people to associate his products with McDonald’s.

Suppiah lost the first round after the High Court ruled in McDonald’s favour in 2006. However, round two went to him on Monday when the Court of Appeal held that there was no evidence to show McCurry Restaurant was passing off McDonald’s business as its own.

“We were almost losing hope, but we are glad that the decision was in our favour,” Suppiah’s wife, Kanageswary, said.

The restaurant serves a variety of Indian food including tosai, roti canai, North Indian cuisine and common Western dishes like hot dogs.

Suppiah said the name of the restaurant was meant to be an abbreviation of Malaysian Chicken Curry, adding it was coincidental that it ended up with the ‘Mc’ prefix.

“McCurry is also an existing Scottish name,” he said, adding that their logo of a chicken with both thumbs up was also vastly different from the famed Golden Arches.

Regular customer, Mohd Radzi, said as long as the food was good, it did not matter what the name of a restaurant was. “But I am happy that justice has been served for a place where I can read my newspapers and enjoy good food.”

In its statement of claim, McDonald’s said it created the prefix ‘Mc’ as a trademark and that with the usage of the prefix ‘Mc’, together with the word ‘Curry’, McCurry Restaurant, which was formerly known as Restoran Penang Curry House (KL) Sdn Bhd, had misrepresented itself as being associated with McDonald’s business.

The Court of Appeal disagreed.

Judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram, in delivering judgment, said McCurry’s Restaurant signboard would not result in reasonable persons associating McCurry with the McDonald’s mark.

He added that the fact that McCurry Restaurant chose the name ‘McCurry’, could not, by itself, lead to the inference that it sought to obtain an unfair advantage from the usage of the prefix ‘Mc’.

Still, the nightmare may not be over as McDonald’s still have the right to file an appeal against the decision in the Federal Court. - The Star

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

National Intellectual Property Day

The National Intellectual Property (IP) Day 2009 will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), from 23-26 April 2009, in conjunction with the World IP Day on 26 April 2009 .

This annual event is organized by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs in cooperation with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to enhance public awareness on the importance of innovation, protection and commercialization of IP. It also reflects the Government’s recognition to innovators on their contributions to the nation’s economic and social development.

This year, MyIPO have chosen “Intellectual Property – Driving Nation’s Competitiveness” as our theme to reflect today’s world where a country’s competitiveness is increasingly dependent on its capacity to innovate. Each year, 26 April marks the day we celebrate National Intellectual Property Day. The IP Day offers an ideal opportunity to inform, educate and promote the importance of intellectual property (IP) as a tool for economic, social and cultural development.

IP represents the product of our mind or intellect. However, without encouragement, many great innovations might have remained merely ideas

To cater to a much wider audience, there will also be side events organized at the margin of the expo. These include meetings, seminars and workshops which will serve as a platform for knowledge enhancement as well as business matching, especially for the small and medium enterprises.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Designer label making waves

From humble beginnings to being a millionaire, fashion designer Key Ng Yew Sing has never thought that it was luck or miracle that made his brand – KN KEY NG – popular in the world of fashion and celebrities. It was his patience and determination.

Ng, who established the KEY NG brand in 1998, says he is very particular about every single production step – from designing and drafting to choosing fabrics, cutting materials and even each sewing stitch. He believes the unique and trendy designs, quality materials and sewing work speak loudly for a brand.

“The aspiration of making a person look good pushes me to design and make more modern clothes for people,” he says, adding that he flies to Japan twice a year to purchase fabrics.

What prompted him to use KEY NG as his brand?

“It’s quite common in the fashion field that designers use their name as the brand. It’s like a trend; thus I decided to label my products under KEY NG 11 years ago,” he recalls.

In 2007, he rebranded the name to KN KEY NG, which he thinks will be easily recognised globally.

Hailing from Sitiawan, Perak, Ng says his hobby – drawing – led him to begin his career in fashion designing in the early 1990s, after his graduation from the Singapore Nanyang Institute of Arts. After two years working for Singaporean designer Bobby Ch’ng, he decided to return to Malaysia. In 1995, with RM200,000 capital, Ng set up City Wave, which operates from a rented shoplot in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. The factory then housed three machines and had three employees.

“(We have come) a long way (and) we did not give up. We managed to obtain our first RM8,000 order from Isetan department store,” he recalls.

Today, it has 180 employees and a four-storey headquarters and factory in Cheras with monthly production of 8,000 pieces of clothes. - The Star

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Economy based on Innovation

Efforts are being made to build an economy based on innovation. A Council of Economic Advisers is formed by Prime Minister Najib to help the Government to renew and revive the nation’s economy. The economic council would report directly to the Prime Minister and members would not be politicians but corporate leaders. The council is different from the current National Economic Action Council in the sense that it would consist of economic experts from the corporate sector.

The Prime Minister also announced that his new deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, would lead a team which would concentrate on efforts to polish the potential, skills and abilities of human capital in the country.

Najib abolished the Entrepreneurial and Co-operative Development Ministry. The development of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) will be moved to the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) while Mara and Tekun will now come under the purview of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

The move to integrate the development of SMEs into Miti is expected to strengthen the role of the SME Industry Development Corporation (Smidec) as the lead agency for SME development.

Another ministry which has been abolished is the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry (MEWC), leaving the supervision of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to be absorbed by the former Information Ministry, which has been expanded to include the functions of Arts and Culture to become the new Information, Communications, Arts and Culture Ministry.

A new ministry – Energy, Green Technology and Water – has been created from the remaining elements of MEWC to promote sustainable development and the use of green technologies.

Najib also announced that a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department – Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon – would oversee the Government’s important initiative to introduce Key Performance Indi­cators.

Ismail Sabri To Continue Measures Taken by Shahrir

A new cabinet was formed by our fifth prime minister, Najib Abdul Razak. The new person appointed to take over Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister is Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“People want to see results from this ministry. They can easily gauge our KPI (key performance indicators) because we manage and control prices of everyday goods,” he said. Ismail Sabri added he planned to continue measures taken by former minister Shahrir Abdul Samad whom he described as an experienced senior leader.

Ismail Sabri was the Youth and Sports minister. With a law degree form Universiti Malaya, he started practice as a lawyer in 1985. In 1987, he was appointed as Temerloh district ofiicer.

Intellectual property is administered by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Favourite Brands of 2009

100Plus and Sony are Malaysian consumers’ most favourite brands, tying with the highest number of votes in a Superbrands survey conducted by The Nielsen Co. Gardenia, which previously won the Superbrands awards four times, is the highest-ranked home-grown brand, Superbrands said in a statement.

Superbrands Malaysia chief executive officer Mark Pointer said the survey, conducted between Jan 14 and Feb 4, represented a “very current finger on the pulse of Malaysian consumers and their predisposition towards brands and brand choice.”

The Superbrands survey was conducted online and consisted of a panel in Malaysia of 1,500 consumers.

Malaysia’s top 10 favourite brands, from top to bottom, are 100Plus, Sony, Google, Maggi, Panasonic, Shell, Gardenia, Colgate, ICI Dulux and Honda

The poll was also done in Singapore and Hong Kong at the same time.

Singapore’s top 10 favourite brands, in order starting from the highest ranked, are Colgate, Google, Starhub, NTUC Fairprice, Sony, SingTel, Yahoo!, Straits Times, 7-Eleven and Nippon Paint.

Hong Kong’s top 10 favourite brands, from top to bottom, are 7-Eleven, Circle K, Sony, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Yahoo!, Cathay Pacific, Colgate, Nike and TVB Hong Kong. - the Star

"Brands with the greatest equity are more likely to tide over during tough times as customers are willing to pay higher prices for products with which they have established a closer relationship," said Paul Richmond, managing director, consumer group, the Nielsen Company Singapore and Malaysia.