Director of the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office, Heather Clarke, said that due to the global recession there was a decline in the number of patent applications received in Barbados and across the region. (Picture by SDB Media.)
BARBADOS HAS THE OPPORTUNITY to benefit from patent development, but this potential is being stalled by lack of financial backing.
The point was emphassied by registrar and director of the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office, Heather Clarke, and echoed by patent attorney Queen’s Counsel Fiona Hinds, on the sidelines of a seminar on the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) held at the Baobab Towers, Warrens, last Thursday.
Clarke said in recent years there was an obvious reduction in patent applications in Barbados and the region, a trend she attributed to the ongoing global recession. And of the applications received in Barbados, “99.9 per cent” were foreign, from mostly multinational pharmaceutical applicants.
She said that was why it was important to put the system in place so applicants would focus on innovation and development.
“We are an intellectual property office and that is a determination at the policy level what we do. We do some outreach, but in terms of the infrastructure at policy and the infrastructure to support innovation and development, those are critical elements that have to be put in place. We are prepared to do our bit whenever we can and foster the area of innovation and development,” she added.
Hinds said a lack of financing was a limitation of the fledging sector, but it would be a movement forward if Government and private entities further encouraged research and development (R&D) in innovation, because of the importance as a developing nation to one day have its own basket of patents it could exploit and benefit from financially.
Hinds admitted that R&D was tremendously expensive globally, but could be strengthened by a budget line entry for a business.
“We have to be training thought; we have to be training growth. We have to be training how to think novelly, how to think differently, how to take that box and think outside of the box and that is a different skill set. That is confidence on top of skill set.
“We have good ideas. Our people are innovative . . . . The challenge, nine out of ten times, is financial. Getting financial backing for an idea is challenging if you don’t have other resources within the current framework.”
She queried, for example, if bankers were being trained to give financing for innovation development.
The seminar was organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Its goal was to sensitise and provide guidance to practitioners with respect to the PCT system and its procedures, matters which are to be implemented, and recent developments within the PCT division.
Among those in attendance were patent attorneys, representatives from the international business sector, the University of the West Indies and staff of the Intellectual Property Office. (SDB Media)