Science chief pushes for patent increase in PHL

In Photo: Montejo

IN order to boost the country’s position in the Global Competitiveness Index through increased local patent filings, Science Secretary Mario Montejo opens the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for partnership with patent professionals.

“We are targeting 100 patent filings this year,” Montejo explained on DOST’s move to tap patent professionals to beef up the department’s patent applications.

“The partnership will also pave the way for better assistance to local inventors,” he added.

Such partnership is in consonance with Montejo’s drive to hasten Technology Application and Promotion Institute (Tapi)-assisted patent applications in the country and to cater to both DOST-assisted technologies, as well as private inventors.

Montejo himself was an award-winning inventor before his stint as DOST secretary.

Thus, DOST’s Tapi partnered with the Association of PAQE Professionals Inc. (APP) through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed on September 16.

Engr. Edgar I. Garcia, director of Tapi, is optimistic that through the collaboration, Tapi will be able to meet its patenting targets and be able to assist local inventors obtain patent grants. These areas need special attention as the country’s patenting statistics show very few local filings by Filipinos compared with foreign-based patent applications.

Tapi is mandated by Executive Order 128 to promote technology commercialization of the DOST, and by Republic Act 7459 to assist local inventors. The MOA, signed by Garcia and lawyer Bayani B. Loste, APP president, said that APP members will serve as patent agents of Tapi-financed patent applications.

APP also committed to allocate at least 20 applications per month as the minimum absorptive capacity for Tapi. These applications will be filed at the Intellectual Property Office (IPOPHL) within 22 working days.

In 2013 DOST-Tapi assisted 12 patent filings. For 2014 Montejo and Tapi are targeting 100 applications, 31 of which have been filed as of this writing.

Corporate social responsibility

Tapi may be the institution with the highest number of registered patent agents but it is unable to cater to all requests due mainly to the spike in the number of applications they received this year, Garcia admitted.

Partly, it is also due to in-house agents’ lack of time to process the increased number of applications, driving Tapi to engage the services of other agents from other DOST agencies, or from the Innovation and Technology Support Offices (Itso) network.

Loste, who is also a partner of the Makati-based Fortun Narvasa and Salazar law offices, lauded the opportunity to assist a government agency like Tapi as part of their corporate social responsibility by providing quality professional services at reduced and capped fees compared with big patent firms in Makati City. APP is an association of highly experienced patent lawyers and patent agents who are registered by the IPOPHL through its Patent Agent Qualifying Examinations (PAQE) since 2006. It is accredited by the Securities and Exchange Commission and has membership in all scientific and engineering fields throughout the country.

Though relatively small due to its stiff membership criteria, APP is the only association of patent agents in the country that requires its members to pass the PAQE. Membership is by invitation only. Some of its members are currently practicing abroad.

“This partnership with Tapi is now a commitment of our members, as our CSR, in our individual capacity or by our respective firms,” Loste said. “This is extremely important and helpful for Tapi as a government entity as we are also experiencing difficulties in engaging the services of highly competent patent agents,” Engr. Manolita Aurora O. Javate said.

She also said that the rates of APP are comparable with the Itso rates but are still far below the professional fees provided by private firms.

“We are also assured in the quality and timeliness of the filings,” Javate added.

DOST’s Assistant Secretary Raymund E. Liboro, also the officer in charge of DOST’s Science and Technology Information Institute, expressed optimism that Tapi’s move will pave the way for a strong patent portfolio for the DOST.

“We need to reconsider our strategies and to support local innovations,” Liboro said, sharing that the Filipino virtue of “highly creative mind” can be an important inspiration despite local challenges.  He mentioned that mechanisms such as “‘theses to patents” may be an interesting program that the DOST can support in target university research students in both baccalaureate and graduate levels.

“The normal attitude of inventors is they just think, think and think, then later face the problem of documenting their ideas and disclosing their technologies into patenting-ready format,” Liboro said.

Loste and lawyer Editha R. Hechanova both expressed that the APP can be a long-term strategic partner of the DOST to address these challenges. “We are hopeful that with APP’s engagement as a clearinghouse for its members, the number of quality local patent filings will increase in the medium term,” Loste said.

Hechanova, a licensing expert, also viewed this as an opportunity for more effective transfer of technologies in the long term.

S&T Media Service