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Moving Brunei business forward
Publication Date : 09-12-2013
It is essential for business, in particular the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to grasp knowledge on intellectual property (IP) and harness its potential in order to keep their business moving forwards, especially in today’s knowledge-based economy.
As Brunei is pushing for more innovation and local business expansion, the subject on IP has never been greater.
With 95 per cent of business entities in Brunei being SMEs, the need to promote their growth has become critical as to fulfil the nation’s drive towards economic diversification.
It has always been a common misconception that developing, protecting and managing IP is a concern only to large companies and multinational corporations. In order to generate growth, smaller business owners are also in a position to capitalise on their IP.
At a recent regional seminar on Intellectual Property held in Singapore last week, Chiam Lu Lin, the deputy chief executive at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) said that the importance of IP will continue to grow as it is central to commercialisation.
“Despite the global economic downturn, IP has continued to grow in importance as a key driver of business and economic expansion,” she said.
The seminar “IP is Big News” was jointly organised by IPOS and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the leading global forum for the promotion of IP, bringing together journalists across the region to discuss on how to cover IP-related news more effectively.
In her welcoming remarks, Chiam said that research and development (R&D) spending continues to grow globally, translating into a steady increase in international filings for patents, trademarks and industrial designs under the WIPO-administered IP system.
According to WIPO statistics, she said, international filings filed under the patent cooperation treaty (PCT), the Madrid system and the Hague system grew steadily by around three to seven per cent in 2012 compared to the preceding year.
Brunei is a member of WIPO, and has recently restructured its administration of IP into the Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO) under the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) to serve local entrepreneurs and inventors that seek to protect their intellectual property.
IP applicants in Brunei benefit from various mechanisms administered by WIPO, such as the PCT, which makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention in each of a large number countries by filing a single international patent application, as well as the ‘Madrid system’, a simple, low-cost, time-saving and effective means of obtaining and maintaining protection for trademarks in multiple territories.
Over the recent years, the BEDB and WIPO have jointly organised workshops that promote awareness of the relevance of IP to the local business community.
In its simplest term, IP represents various legal entitlements that attach to certain names, written and recorded media and inventions.
Businesses, inventors and creators can apply for protection for their invention with a Patent, their product design with Industrial Design, their brand with Trademark, as well as their artistic works such as songs and literature with Copyright (although this form of IP does not necessarily require a formal registration).
Such protection give the owners of the original ideas the exclusive rights to manufacture and commercialise their products and services in order to generate revenue for the sustainability of the business. It gives the business a competitive edge in the market and also encourages innovation.
It also protects those ideas from being stolen or copied by others that aim to profit from the creator’s hard work and dedication, as copyright piracy, trademark counterfeiting and patent infringement have become significant issues in the business community.
But IP is more than just protection of original ideas; it is a passport for business expansion, as proven by several Singaporean companies that have been invited as case studies during the seminar last week.
One company that commercialise on its IP is Ya Kun Kaya Toast, a Singapore-based chain of mass-market, retro-ambience cafes selling toasts, soft-boiled eggs and coffee.
The cafe rapidly grew from a small family-run stall into a franchise with over fifty outlets across six countries after its second generation CEO Adrin Loi registered its trademark for the logo and business name as well as its trade secrets for its Kaya Toast recipe.
“As we move ahead with our expansion overseas, we need to protect our IP in other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Australia,” said Loi, adding that the combination of all its IP rights make the Ya Kun brand and its products uniquely theirs.
Another firm, Violed International Pte Ltd, inventor of high power energy saving LED lightings, demonstrated that its growth was attributed to its application for industrial designs through the Hague System.
The company’s chief operating officer Patrick Mok said that the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs provides his firm the platform for registering its product designs in countries of the Hague Agreement administered by the International Bureau of WIPO.
“It offers a means of efficiency obtaining design protection in several countries for our company by simply filing one application for our design registrations with the Bureau through a single procedural step that adequately and sufficiently serves our requirements,” Mok said.
Following its merger with a UK incorporated company, Violed is in plans to expand its production and R&D in Malaysia and the Asian region.