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