RESEARCH in the academe plays a key role in the country’s development.

But universities should abolish the “publish or perish” rule and instead “protect, publish, and profit,” even with the dearth of research in the Philippines.

In the opening ceremony of University Research Week last January, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (Ipophil) Director Carmen Peralta said research in universities “should not remain in library shelves to become mere references,” but also improve the quality of life.

“Universities are forming companies and [they are] earning from their research,” Peralta said in her keynote speech at the Civil Law auditorium. “Google is a product of University research.”

“Where industries are competitive, we create jobs, [and] we earn income for the government [to support] its projects,” she added.

The 2012 Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ranked the Philippines 95th out of 142 countries in terms of innovation, a decline from 91st place in 2011.

Among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines trailed behind Malaysia (31st), Thailand (57th) and Vietnam (76th). Singapore, meanwhile, landed on third place, following Switzerland (1st) and Sweden (2nd) in the most number of innovations.

In a previous interview with the Varsitarian, Maribel Nonato, assistant to the rector for research and innovation, expressed openness to commercialization of research but said necessary steps should be taken to protect the University’s intellectual property.

‘Research protection’

Filing patents is one method of protecting research, Peralta said.

According to WIPO’s website, an invention or research output cannot be reproduced, used, or sold without knowledge of the owner who applied for patent rights.

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Protection provided by the patent application is effective for 20 years, the website said.

In the Philippines, annual research publications increased by 250 percent from 2000 to 2010 but the filing of patents by Philippine public and private institutions did not change much, Peralta said.

In 2011, the Philippines had 3,196 patent applications, 96 percent of them filed by foreigners in the chemical and pharmaceutical fields, a report from the WIPO showed.

Malaysia had 6,559 patent requests in the same year, followed by Indonesia with 5,838 applications and Thailand with 3,924 patent filings. Vietnam was fourth with 3,560.

As of January this year, out of the 252 invention patent applications, only 17 were filed by Filipinos.

“Filipino patents do not even reach 200 applications [anymore]. These are [mostly] individual filers [and] companies… nasaan na ang researches ng other [academic] institutions?” Peralta asked.

Philippines lagging behind

The highest number of patent applications by local inventors and researchers was in 2007, when 225 patents were filed.

Peralta said Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines once had equal numbers of patent applications by local citizens. But Malaysia began “mining” university researches, allowing the number of Malaysian patent applications to go up.

This prompted Ipophil to establish Innovation and Technology Support Offices or ITSOs to assist academic or business institutions in conducting patent searches to ensure that there would be no “reinvention of the wheel,” Peralta said.

The ITSOs’ powerful patent catalog, the Thomson Innovation Database, is capable of searching 75 million patents all over the world.

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To date, there are 63 ITSOs in academic institutions and business associations in the country. UST was one of the first academic institutions to join the program in November 2010. Cez Mariela Teresa G. Verzosa

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