Mindanao inventors need patent support services

IPO should deliver in that promise and should pay attention to the capacity of Mindanawon inventors this time, Samuel Abrenilla, MIFI president told MindaNews Wednesday. He cited that award-winning Mindanawon inventors haveskipped a national invention contest since 2003 because of a rift.

At present, Abrenilla said, inventors are turned off by expensive trips to Manila where IPO is based just to apply for patent registration. Each trip costs at least P20,000.

The set up has deterred Mindanao's struggling inventors to register their   inventions.Many of the Mindanawon inventions, he said, are not patented  because there is no access for registration.

If opened, the satellite office could only accept applications for patent and trademark registration, Abrenilla said. He said this would hasten registration because instead of spending more money, Mindanawon inventors could spare more resources to improve their inventions.

He said Mindanao inventors going to Manila to register their works also run the risk of exposing their patent applications to ‘piracy’. He noted that the Philippines follows a "first to file" not a "first to invent" patent registration system patterned after Europe’s.

He said he had brought up the issue of office and support services with IPO since 2000.

"It is a sure sign of the government's neglect of the development of technologies by its citizens," he said.

Many significant inventions from Mindanao were stalled because the government did not prioritize them, he added.

Davao City Councilor Peter Laviña, who sponsored a resolution in February asking the IPO to open a Davao office, said it has pledged to open one by 2007.

Laviña said that in a round-table discussion with IPO Director General Adrian Cristobal in June, he got a commitment that it will be included in the IPO’s 2007 budget.

But Abrenilla said Mindanao's inventors do not only need an office to file patent applications. He said the more basic need is patent research training, facility, and a showroom for inventors.

He said patenting of inventions, which could last for 36 months, requires   technical know-how. He said IPO should also accredit Mindanao-based patent
agents who could assist local inventors.

He said the 100-member MIFI is batting for the patent research facility and  support services with the patent office. It is useless to have a patent office in Mindanao if the inventors don’t know how to do patent research, he explained.

"Their applications would be turned down because they failed to comply with
procedure," he said.

He said patent research requires the applicants to use a special tool to browse the internet to check if the invention is original.

The IPO will open a Cebu satellite office within this year. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)