Thursday, January 29, 2009

Malaysia has 177 PCT Applications

WIPO continued to receive international patent applications from developing countries in 2008. The largest number of applications received came from the Republic of Korea (7,908) and China (6,089) followed by India (766), Brazil (451), South Africa (382), Turkey (367), Mexico (210), and Malaysia (177).

Malaysia registered a growth of 64% in PCT filings compared to 2007.

Top PCT Applicants

For the first time, a Chinese company topped the list of PCT applicants in 2008. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, a major international telecommunications company based in Shenzhen, filed 1,737 PCT applications in 2008. Panasonic Corporation (Japan) was the second largest user of the PCT in 2008 with 1,729 international applications, followed by Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Netherlands, 1,551 PCT applications), Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Japan, 1,364 PCT applications) and Robert Bosch GMBH (Germany, 1,273 PCT applications).

Of the top 100 companies using the PCT system in 2008, 38 were from the United States, 28 from Japan and 13 from Germany. One other Chinese company, ZTE Corporation, also a Shenzen-based telecommunications company, figured in the top 100 user list. - WIPO

PCT fillings grew by 2.4% in 2008

International patent filings under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) grew by 2.4% in 2008, to nearly 164,000 applications. While the rate of growth was modest, as compared to an average 9.3% rate of growth in the previous three years, the total number of applications for 2008 represents the highest number of applications received under the PCT in a single year. Continued use of the PCT, a cornerstone of the international patent system, indicates that companies recognize the importance of sustained investment in research, development and innovation to remain competitive even within challenging economic conditions.

Inventors from the Republic of Korea (+12.0%), China (+11.9%) and Sweden (+12.5%) enjoyed robust growth rates in their filing of PCT applications in 2008. The largest number of international PCT applications, just under a third of the total for 2008 (32.7% or 53,521 applications) were filed by inventors in the United States of America, maintaining a ranking that has spanned some thirty years.

“Historically, patent filings tend to dip during periods of economic difficulty simply because fewer resources are available for investment in the innovation cycle. Once the economic cycle improves, patenting activity tends also to recover. That said, economic crises have, in the past, been a catalyst for innovation as greater emphasis is placed on improving standards of efficiency, doing more with less and identifying and developing smarter business solutions,” said Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO. “In the current economic climate, technology, innovation and creativity are critical in creating opportunities for economic renewal and addressing pressing global issues such as climate change,” he added.

Inventors and corporations from Japan, with 17.5% (28,774) of all filings, clinched the number two spot in 2008, followed by Germany (18,428), Republic of Korea (7,908) France (6,867), China (6,089), United Kingdom (5,517), Netherlands (4,349), Sweden (4,114), Switzerland (3,832), Canada (2,966), Italy (2,939), Finland (2,119), Australia (2,028) and Israel (1,882). In 2008, China improved its ranking by one place, to become the sixth largest user of the PCT. - WIPO

Saturday, January 24, 2009

US Approves First Human Embryonic Stem Cell Study

The US FDA has approved the first human trials of human embryonic stem cell research, authorizing researchers to test whether the cells are safe to use in spinal injury patients, U.S. biotech firm Geron Corp. announced Friday.

The tests could begin by summer, said Dr. Thomas Okarma, president and CEO of the Geron Corp. The trials will use human stem cells authorized for research by then President George W. Bush in 2001. The patients will be those with the most severe spinal cord injuries, called complete spinal cord injuries.

The primary purpose of the trial will be to see whether injecting these cells into patients is safe, but Okarma said researchers will also look for any signs of recovery. Scientists will monitor the patients for a year after the injections to see if they are regaining any function below the injured point.

Whatever its outcome, the study will mark a new chapter in the history of embryonic-stem-cell research in the United States -- a field where debate spilled out of the laboratory long ago and into national politics. While some overseas doctors claim to use human embryonic stem cells in their clinics, stem-cell experts said they knew of no previous human studies that use such cells.

The trials will involve eight to 10 patients who are completely paralyzed below the third to 10th vertebra, and who sustained their spinal cord injury within seven to 14 days. The tests will use stem cells cultured from embryos left over in fertility clinics, which otherwise would have been discarded.

Using the stem cells, researchers have developed cells called oligodendrocytes, which are precursors to nerve cells and which produce a protective layer around nerve cells known as myelin. Researchers will inject these nerve cells directly into the part of the spine where the injury occurred.

Embryonic stem cells are blank cells found in four- to five-day-old embryos, which have the ability to turn into any cell in the body. However, when stem cells are removed, the embryo is destroyed -- which has made this one of the most controversial medical research fields in the past decade.

Federal research funds were prohibited for embryonic stem-cell research until August 2001, when Bush approved spending for research using only already-existing cell lines. Scientists later discovered that fewer than two dozen of those lines were useful for research, but abortion opponents opposed any legislation that would lift Bush's restrictions, and Bush twice vetoed congressional efforts to roll back his rules.

President Obama is expected to loosen the restrictions, which many researchers and advocates have complained severely set back work toward curing disease such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes. - Xinhua

Plastic Solar cells

Plastic solar cells are developed by the University of Chicago for portable electronic devices.

The prototype, a cell measuring eight square inches (50 square centimeters), is expected to achieve 8 percent efficiency and to have a lifetime of at least three years, according to a press release issued by the University of Chicago.

New materials with higher efficiencies are the key in the industry, it said. Plastic solar cells are behind traditional solar-cell technology in terms of the efficiency that it can produce right now.

The invention, a new semiconductor material called PTB1, converts sunlight into electricity. The active layer of PTB1 is a mere 100 nanometers thick, the width of approximately 1,000 atoms. Synthesizing even small amounts of the material is a time-consuming, multi-step process.

The university licensed the patent rights to the technology to Solarmer last September.

An advantage of the Chicago technology is its simplicity. Solarmer has entered into a sponsored research agreement with the university to provide additional support for further research. - Xinhua

Obama Pledged US$15bil a year in Renewable Energy

Barack Obama has vowed to go green, pledging US$15bil a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade – jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid, he says. His go green policy will have a major impact on housing and the way that houses are built in future.

He vowed in his inauguration speech, "We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama’s Vision for Cars and Fuel

Obama has a vision for America to be energy independent. When he was a senator, he ridiculed Bush’s effort in tackling this issue. The following are excerpts from his speech, sharing his vision for fuel efficient cars and alternative fuels.

“With technology we have on the shelves right now and fuels we can grow right here in America, by 2025 we can reduce our oil imports by over 7.5. million barrels per day - an amount greater than all the oil we are expected to import from the entire Middle East.”

“We start by producing cars that use less oil. The auto industry has not been asked to raise fuel economy standards in seventeen years, and lately we've just stopped asking them to.”

“It's time for them to install those tanks (E85) in every single car they make, and it's time for the government to cover this small cost, which currently runs at just $100 per car. We should also make sure that from now on, every single automobile the government purchases is a flex-fuel vehicle.”

“It's also a time to start making E85 fueling stations more available to the public. Currently, only 681 out of 170,000 fueling stations in America offer E85 pumps. This is not acceptable. Every American should have the choice to fill up their car with E85 at any fueling station. And oil companies should stop standing in the way and join us in making this happen. If the big oil companies would devote just 1% of their first quarter profits this year to install E85 pumps, more than 7,000 service stations would be able to serve E85 to hungry motorists.”

“Finally, we should reduce the risk of investing in renewable fuels by providing loan guarantees and venture capital to those entrepreneurs with the best plans to develop and sell biofuels. And we should create a market for renewable fuels by ramping up the renewable fuel standard and creating an alternative diesel standard in this country that together would blend 65 billion gallons of renewable fuels into the petroleum supply each year.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thai King receives WIPO Global Leader Award

The King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, received on January 14, 2009, the WIPO Global Leader Award in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to promoting intellectual property and his important contribution to society as a prolific inventor. The award was presented by WIPO Director General, Mr. Francis Gurry, at a ceremony at the Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin, Thailand. Members of the Privy Council, ministers, senior officials and a high level WIPO delegation were in attendance.

In a citation, Mr. Gurry said “In sharing the fruits of your creativity in the form of invention and musical and artistic works, Your Majesty has not only demonstrated the power of intellectual property to enrich and enhance the quality of daily life and work but has also encouraged people everywhere to create, respect and protect it.”

The King of Thailand is an acclaimed artist with a portfolio of over 1,000 works, including paintings, photos, musical and literary works. He is also an accomplished inventor holding over 20 patents and 19 trademarks. Many of the King’s inventions, which include a water aerator and artificial rainmaking technology, have generated concrete and practical benefits for rural communities in Thailand. - WIPO

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Simple to Pronounce and Easy To Remember

Founder and manager director of Marrybrown, Nancy Liew, says the name Marrybrown simply popped into her mind when she decided to start a fast-food business.

“It is simple to pronounce, easy to remember and has an international appeal, as shown when we market the brand overseas,” she says in an interview with StarBizWeek.

Nobody would have imagined or thought that a brand that started in Johor Baru in 1981 would become one that all Malaysians can be proud of. Marrybrown Fried Chicken Sdn Bhd, operator of Malaysia’s largest home-grown fast-food restaurant chain, began at a small shoplot in Jalan Wong Ah Fook. Over the last 28 years, Marrybrown has ventured into other countries, proving that a Malaysian brand is able to make an impact in the global branding fraternity.

Liew says unlike in the fashion or cosmetics business where brands can sometimes be a mouthful or hard to pronounce, it is a big NO in the fast-food industry.

She says most of the international fast-food brands tend to be three-syllable such as KFC, Burger King and McDonald’s, and so is Marrybrown.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Malaysians remain brand loyal despite economic downturn

According to a survey by market research company Synovate, more than three-quarters of Malaysians indicated that they would continue to buy the same brand of consumer products especially fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) like dairy, bread and rice, soft drinks, canned products, healthcare and cosmetic items.

“Brand loyalty continues to thrive, something which advertisers, marketers and brand managers should be pleased to know,” said Synovate Malaysia managing director Steve Murphy in a statement.

Brand switching is more prominent for alcoholic drinks and tobacco products. The survey found that 10% of Malaysians planned to switch to cheaper alcoholic beverages while 5% have already made the change.

Malaysians are spending less on various FMCG products with reduction of 30% for dairy products, 48% for soft drinks, 43% canned products and 28% cosmetic and beauty goods.

Expenditure for staple food items, on the other hand, has stayed consistent. “While a majority of Malaysians remain brand loyal, it’s important to note that they are in fact spending less on some products,” Steve said.

Companies need to step up on advertising and marketing instead of cutting such budget to “remain visible” and position themselves in the minds of consumers, he said.

If the economic conditions were to deteriorate further, consumer sentiment to switch brands would intensify and maintaining brand loyalty would be even more difficult, he added.

Synovate in November interviewed over 1,000 Malaysians from the ages of 15 to 64 across all income levels, as part of its global “State of the Economy” survey. - The Star

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Revised Korean Search Fee for PCT

Happy New Year! Happy 2009 year!

The start of the year sees higher PCT filing fee for Malaysians. The Korea IP Office revised their search fee from KRW225,000 (RM869) to KRW900,000 (RM2803), an increase of 400%.

Natural persons no longer qualify for European Patent Office's 75% search fee reduction. Our neighbour's in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand still qualifies for that discount. However, natural persons of Malaysia still qualifies for 90% reduction in filing fee. Now we are in the same league as Singapore.

Malaysia can nominate Korea, Australia or Europe to perform their PCT search. Each countries set their own fees. As of 1 Jan 2009, the search fees for Korea KRW900,000 (RM2803), Australia AUD1600 (RM3910) and Europe EUR1700 (RM8062). The Korea search fee is still the least fee among the search authorities.

Other than the search fee, Malaysia applicants have to incur transmittal fees and filing fees. The transmittal fees are RM375 and the filing fees are EUR1330 (RM4170).