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Brunei start-ups move to protect work

Publication Date : 28-01-2014


Brunei's Info-communications technology (ICT) start-ups are keen on protecting their business ideas and products despite the high costs associated with intellectual property (IP) protection.

Businesses in the creative industry told The Brunei Times on Monday that existing programmes and government schemes are making it easier for start-ups to protect their work.

Co-partner of creative design company Hoco Creative Randy Lim said that the Brunei Darussalam Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO) is helping small companies with the registration process.

“Most of the challenges come in arguing your case for uniqueness and why your logo or trademark deserves to be protected. There is also the waiting game (it takes a while for registering your trademark) and there are the extra costs involved if you fail to submit a complete and thorough registration,” he explained.

“All in all I think Brunei is heading towards the right direction in recognising the significance of intellectual property rights and protecting them. It adds value towards the creative industry, it protects talent, ingenuity and originality. It ensures ideas and ambitions can thrive in an environment that rewards innovation. (It is) a safe haven for creativity.”

Md Khairul Anwar Sabir, co-founder and chief operating officer of mobile app developer Dotroot Technologies, said that regardless of the mammoth costs involved in applying for IP, start-ups should not delay in protecting their work and risk having their ideas stolen.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry…. ideas are the most valuable assets. So I think start ups should sort IPs early on,” he said.

He said challenges that lie in IP “would have to do with the copyright and trademark application”.

“As a start-up we want to project our ideas as much as we can and ensure its confidentiality. But its quite challenging to obtain a legal copyright recognition. The other challenge would have to be the long waiting line for patents,” he said, adding that the last time the company checked, it would take 18 months to secure.

“At Dotroot Technologies, we made sure all the necessary steps had been (taken) to make sure everything is in order. In summary, we did our research and consulted with the proper individuals.”

Keeran Janin, co-founder another tech start up MeSixty Sdn Bhd, said it has been “easy” for start-ups to access and protect IP in Brunei since the opening of BruIPO.

This has helped in raising awareness on the benefits of IP protection is Brunei among, he added.

“We protect international IP in addition to local IP. The costs are high but there are ways to raise funding for IP protection through grants and other local schemes,” he said.

Founder of SocialBuzz Hiro Tien said his company has a timeframe in completing projects.

“It is good with authorities like the Authority of Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) supporting our project. With that we are getting more advice particularly to take care of IP protection. I personally still see build-release-scale comes first for most mobile and Internet-based (companies) because it is simply too fast paced,” he said.

“But since, fortunately, we have the capability and resources to tackle IP, we are doing it in tandem.”

Tien said being recently promoted in Brunei, many start-ups are still talking to accustom themselves to the process of IP registration, particularly in patent.

“It also makes much more sense for hardware based companies to go for patents or industrial design IP registrations as their project typically take years to launch. It is essential they protect them. Internet & mobile based companies can launch a product within weeks nowadays. The thought of going through a one- to two-year ordeal & five- to six-digits cost to register a patent might sound scary to some young and burgeoning entrepreneurs out there,” he explained.


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