Understanding Intellectual Property (IP) allows people and businesses to harness creations of the human mind and realise their economic potential through commercialisation. It is important to know what constitutes intellectual property, who owns the intellectual property and what protection and advantages are afforded to intellectual property owners.
This was the focus of the fourth breakfast seminar hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP). The platform aims to foster partnerships involving academia, industry and government for innovation and entrepreneurship.
During his presentation titled: Life Sciences Intellectual Property a Whirlwind Tour, Advocate Tyron Grant focused on the importance of Intellectual property in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Grant is a South African patent attorney specialising in domestic and international patent matters, particularly in the field of Biotechnology and Life Sciences. He has received an Lexology “Client Choice Award” for South Africa in the “Intellectual Property – Patents” category in 2016 and has over 13 years of experience in this field.
‘Intellectual property and its protection is a key building block in the process of research, development, entrepreneurship and commercialisation,’ he said.
The presentation touched on the types of intellectual property that are available to inventors and start-up businesses, with a specific focus on the benefits of patenting inventions that are produced in the process of research and development with a specific focus on inventions in the field of biotechnology,’ he said.
Businesses are often unaware of the importance of their intellectual property assets. Also because intellectual property is not a physical asset it is often overlooked. Businesses often face challenges when it comes to intellectual property due to the cost of protection of the various types of intellectual property. Businesses often do not have a sound understanding of the patenting process which often results in valuable intellectual property being lost due to public disclosure. Understanding intellectual property goes a long way to ensuring that it is properly protected so that it can be leveraged for commercial purposes.
It is important for a businesses to identify its intellectual property and ensure that it is protected, while balancing the benefit of having a patent, trademark and/or registered design with the costs associated with protection. Many businesses make the mistake of over protecting their intellectual property in markets that they will never enter and/or where the IP will never be exploited. Businesses should work on the development of an intellectual property strategy which identify key markets for their products and ensure that they protect their IP in the markets that are important to the company.
‘Patenting of biotechnology inventions is critical in capitalising South Africa’s capabilities in science and technology. South African institutions are involved in world-class research and it is important that technology transfer offices are able to identify and protect the products of this research. The importance of intellectual property protection needs to be communicated with inventors while technology transfer officers need to be aware of the formal and procedural aspects of intellectual property protection in order to protect and commercialise these research products,’ he concluded.
Words: Lihle Sosibo