Saturday, 16 November 2013

Malaysia is not interested in commercialising its research

Malaysia is not interested in commercialising research expenditure. We should not blame the government alone. I had attended talks by our professors, who were given the responsibility to allocate research funds and their intentions had been to ensure a reasonable chance of commercialisations. The public is angry at the low level of commercialisation and the watchdogs and auditors had pointed out the large amount of research expenditure that do not lead to any commercialisation. However these auditors, as usual, only know how to point out problems but have no clue whatsoever how to solve these problems. Citizens and potential researchers such as myself are also responsible for such low level of commercialisation for not complaining about them.

All these are due to no effort at all to protect the intellectual properties arising out of all these research due to many invalid reasons. I only found out once I had spent more than RM4000 out of my own money to patent and attempt to commercialise various ideas. Luckily it was my ambition to patent ideas just because I read about patents and aspire to be an inventor, that is all.

Patents are the only way to protect intellectual properties arising out of any research work. If you don't protect your intellectual property, there is no way we can commercialise the idea because it will be stolen immediately. There is no point in commercialising something that can be stolen easily and ideas can be stolen easily. No patent, no commercialisation.

All Malaysian research funds do not have allocation for patenting. They don't really care if there is a patent arising out of the research. The only conclusion is that the funds have no interest in commercialising the research findings. No matter how many words are mentioned about the importance of commercialising ideas, if patenting is not deemed at all important, there is no way it can ever be commercialised. If you think these research funds actually desire patents to be produced, how come they don't allocate any fund for  patenting? Yes, the recipients of the funds are supposed to patent ideas arising out of the research activities but how can you expect them to patent them if there is no money at all allocated for it. The patents will cost much more than the research funds so what is the point of patenting? Worse, if the recipients have the money to patent, why should they request for research funds?

True patents are indeed expensive, and true protection can amount to billions of ringgit for each patent alone. How come? Because patents must be applied in each country and maintenance fees must be paid every year in each of this country for a total of 196 countries.

But to protect an idea, you don't need a patent. And getting a patent for any idea is very very difficult but getting protection for an idea is very easy and you don't need to get a patent for that idea. What is needed is just to file for a patent for that idea. This filing will cost only RM280 and with it, all research ideas will be protected for life and there will be chance for it to be commercialised because industries can utilise these ideas without them being stolen easily and therefore allow companies to make profits.

Why can't the research fund managers allocate this amount of money in order to ensure a reasonable chance that the research result can be commercialised? It is due to a large number of misconceptions.

1. Filing a patent is difficult.

Not true because wrong patent contents, are also accepted for filing. Even though there are a lot of wrong ideas, concepts, spelling errors, missing information, the patent filing can still be accepted, and therefore, the main idea can still be protected. Not filing at all is even much worse because there is no protection at all. It is better to file wrongly, than not to file at all.

2. You need to prove that your idea can work.

Also nonsense. Wrong and ridiculous ideas can still be filed. Whether a patent can be granted is another issue but at least an idea is protected the moment it is filed. Once the idea is filed, only then will we start to work to prove that the idea truly works or not.

3. You need a working prototype.

Completely wrong. Well documented but surprisingly that most Malaysians believe that a prototype is required. In fact, it is the opposite. A prototype reduces the chance of getting a patent because many people are exposed to the idea making the patent invalid. Even a computer program is not allowed. Only its flow chart is required.  A working computer program is rejected in the filing process. Please note that a patent is an idea, not a particular design and therefore not a prototype.

4. You must use an agent in order to file a patent.

Not true also. In fact the world patent authority gives discounts for patent filings done by individuals. Not true in Malaysia. Even its online patent filing does not allow individual filing despite having options for individuals or agent filing. I had managed to successfully file despite this limitation for the local filing but for the national phase of the PCT filing, I may have to file manually because the online software does not allow filing if no valid documents to prove that the filing is done by a patent agent.

5. You need to do a patent search in order to file.

Not true at all. It is better to do a patent search yourself but in the official search, whatever search that you or any unoffical body such as patent agents had done, is ignored any way.

You need to pay for the official search but only if you want to get a patent approval.

6. You need to get a patent in order to get protection.

No. Once a patent filing is done, your idea is protected. You are in fact given 30 months before we lose any protection unless we can get a patent approval. Within this 30 months, no other people can exploit your idea for commercial gain without your approval. It is just like a patent protection but limited only to this 30 months. After 30 months, you can still get extensions but penalties need to be paid but this penalty is equivalent to the patent fees anyway, so not such a major financial burden.7. Patent search is expensive.

No. The official search fee cost in Malaysia is around RM1000. This is only required if you want to get your patent approved. If you just want your idea to be protected, there is no need to do any patent search. Nobody else can patent your idea any more and your idea is published for other people to refer to.

8. Patent protection is time consuming.

Not true as well. The moment you file a patent, it is already protected.

9. Getting a patent makes you rich.

Not true and actually the greatest stumbling block. Out of jealousy, the authorities try to prevent people from getting rich out of their patents. Most patent holders are not rich because of their patents. Even Edison, who invented so many things, do not become as rich as some other people who do not invent at all. Some Malaysian professors with lots of patents, are also not rich at all. At least their ideas are protected, instead of being wasted.

10. Patents will make research work useless.

 A patent is just an idea. It has little academic value but these ideas have the potential to be useful. We can still produce lots of research papers from these basic ideas by trying to develop these ideas into working prototypes that can be commercialised easily.

11. Patents cannot protect your ideas, at least in Malaysia.

We have government agencies who can enforce the protection of your patents. You don't need to spend any money in order to protect your patents once a patent is granted. Of course, it is up to us, to protect our property in the end.

12. Patents robs the people.

A patent gives you the right to the idea to do as you please and to prevent other people from exploiting the idea to make money. If unscrupulous people get hold of your idea, they can prevent you from using your own idea and also rob the public. If your intention is to make a public contribution, then you must file your idea into a patent. In this way, you can donate the idea to humanity. The problem is that, since industries need to spend a huge amount of money to develop the ideas, they will be unwilling to spend on ideas that cannot be patented. Your idea will remain idea for a very long time, if you just file it, and not get approval for a patent. 

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