A NEW law enacted last March 23 is aiming to protect Filipino scientific researches through government assistance in receiving intellectual property rights (IPR).

Republic Act 10055 or the Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009 mandates the grant of intellectual rights to research and development institutions that conduct government-funded researches for the “national benefit.”

The law encourages research institutions to have their research output patented to protect them from being imitated, and for commercialization purposes.

Bernie Justimbaste, director of Planning and Evaluation Service under the Department of Science and Technology, said the law recognizes the significant contributions of research to economic development.

“The government should fund researches where the people are the ones who will most benefit. By funding these researches, they will provide better products, services, and job opportunities,” Justimbaste said in an interview.

According to Justimbaste, the act will determine who should set intellectual property rights of a research work—the funding institution or to the research-finding body.

“Since there were problems like this, some government-funded research and developments were not being commercialized because of fear of having legal problems,” he added.

The government patterned the law after the Bayh-Dole Act of the United States, which allows universities, and other research institutions to have exclusive control over output generated from researches funded by the government.

Fortunato Sevilla III, member of the Presidential Coordinating Council on Research and Development, said that since Thomasian researchers are paid to do research, the output is naturally owned by the University.

“The newly approved law did not change UST’s existing IP policy but will help protect the intellectual property of the University. It also serves as a mechanism for technology transfer where the government legally gives the IPR from government-funded researches to the University,” Sevilla said.

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The University, through the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) under the Office for Research and Development, facilitates the implementation and commercialization of UST research products.

Sevilla, former assistant to the Rector for research and development, was one of the drafters of the University intellectual property (IP) policy. Under UST’s IP policy, revenue from research will be divided as follows: 50 percent to the researcher, 15 percent to the TLO, and the remaining 35 percent shall go to the University; 40 percent of which goes to the mother unit responsible for the research and 60 percent to the University administration.

“The Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 2009 will help protect the University’s intellectual property. It will serve as a mechanism for technology transfer where the government legally gives the IPR from government-funded researches to the University,” Sevilla said.

Luring the youth to research

Justimbaste said the law would also be a great tool to boost the interest of the youth on doing research.

The number of Filipino science and technology professionals are one of the lowest in Southeast Asia, he said, without citing data.

“Because not many young Filipinos take up science and technology courses, there is a decline in the number of scientific researchers,” he said. “The government has to show that there is money in science and technology, and increase the number of researchers and professionals in the country.”

Data from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPO) showed that foreigners outnumber Filipinos in seeking patents to their inventions.

From 1998 to 2009, only 2,089 Filipino applications were received by the IPO compared with 32,525 from foreigners. Of the Filipino applications, only 189 were granted by the IPO for the past 10 years.

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“Through this law, an ‘incentive structure’ will be established to encourage the youth to pursue a career in research,” Justimbaste said.

On UST’s part, its IP policy also includes an IP Education Program that aims to promote a better understanding of general intellectual property rights.

“The law, in fact, not only affects science and technology, but also the arts. In the [College of] Fine Arts [and Design], there are already students who have applied for patent,” Sevilla said.

Justimbaste said the government hopes to increase the number of patented researches and other intellectual properties.

“With this law, we hope to motivate young people to take up science and technology careers among others,” he added.

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