Intellectual Property

I was somehow roped into a committee at work today. The job of the committee is to help review some of the intellectual property generated internally. So, I got to sit in and help review a patent. Obviously, I cannot discuss anything about the patent in this blog due to confidentiality issues. However, I can safely talk about my feelings and experience of being involved in this minor step in the patent process. I don’t really know if I am supposed to do what I did, but I ended up asking lots of questions and making a suggestion or two in the process. The short review ended up consuming almost an hour in the process. I hope that the rest of the presenters and reviewers don’t hate me for it.

As a result of getting roped into the committee meeting, I managed to familiarise myself a little, with the way that the patent process is handled at the organisation. I was previously also involved in parts of the process at Cambridge. I got to learn how the process was handled internally at Cambridge, how revenue is shared between the university and the inventor, and even got involved with doing some market feasibility study for a patent. Obviously, there are differences in process and procedures over here.

However, this issue of patents keep cropping up in recent weeks. So, I managed to meet up with a patent attorney last week and asked him some questions about patents, particularly about software patents. I got to find out that the patent process is an extremely cumbersome one. In Malaysia, one has to file a patent locally, and within a span of 12 months, file a PCT application, then within a span of another 18 months, file in each individual country. The costs of filing the patents in each country varies between USD 1k-6k. As for the subject of software patents, it is not possible to patent software algorithms directly, in Malaysia. However, according to the patent attorney that I met, there are workarounds for that problem if someone really needs to patent a piece of software.

It’s almost 6am and I still have not fallen asleep yet. I guess that I won’t be getting any sleep today.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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