Is intellectual property still relevant in the digital age?
By Karamjit Singh March 3, 2014
- Agree or disagree, join the March 7 panel discussion hosted by AIM
- Panellists from AIM, Mimos, UM, KASS Associates and IPI Singapore
ASK journalists in South-East Asia and they will tell you that conversations around intellectual property (IP) rarely happen during interviews with tech entrepreneurs.
It is no different in Malaysia. The prevailing attitude among such entrepreneurs is that technology moves so fast that it is pointless to file a patent on any software, product design or process as they often have less than a five-year lifespan.
So why spend time and resources to create an IP portfolio if one has little confidence that it can be banked in?
For instance, Matt Chandran, founder of iGene Sdn Bhd, an advanced medical informatics company, feels that, “in the digital age ... where even genomics data is captured in binary form, the good old IP framework and its very definition does not provide any meaningful protection.
“The new-age creation is also very different from old inventions. Thus, the IP to be protected (if there is anything that needs to be protected) is very different in its form and shape,” he says.
Chandran admits however that while he has strived to obtain the IPs demanded by ‘yesterdays’ investors, “I firmly believe that the knowledge to do tomorrow’s business is my true IP.”
While many entrepreneurs share the same views as Chandran about IP in today’s fast- paced tech world, at the same time, the appreciation for IP is also increasing among certain segments of the ecosystem.
In fact, some feel that you cannot build a global or even regional company without having your own IP or, at the least, owning exclusive licences to IP.
Count Dr V. Sivapalan, chief evangelist at Proficeo Consultants, as among them. Proficeo manages the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP) for Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd recipients.
Having seen over 200 companies come through the CGP, Sivapalan notes that, “The companies do understand the value of IP and almost all the companies create and own their IP.
“The very few that don’t own their IP have a licence to use the IP, and we always advise them to formalise their IP arrangement via a formal contract,” he adds.
He in fact stresses that IP is “very important in the CGP. We always look for companies that have innovative ideas and technologies, and prefer that they create and own their own IP.”
According to Sivapalan, the main reason why some don’t file for IP protection is their belief that it may be better to keep it as a trade secret. A secondary reason is that the cost of filing can be very expensive.
Whichever side of the IP coin you are on, or if you still are unsure of the role of IP in today’s market, you may want to attend a panel session at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, that Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) is organising this Friday, March 7 at 9.30am in collaboration with Digital News Asia (DNA).
The topic is IP in the Digital Age – Is It Still Relevant?, and the panellists are:
- P. Kandiah, founder and director of KASS International, a leading IP firm with offices in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia;
- Prof Dr Rofina Yasmin Othman, director, University of Malaya Centre for Innovation and Commercialisation (UMCIC);
- Azimah Abdul Kadir, head of the Intellectual Property Management & Strategies (IPMS) at Mimos Bhd;
- Michael Goh, senior technology consultant, IPI Singapore, a government agency tasked with promoting IP; and
- Dr Viraj Perera, senior vice president, Strategic Initiatives and Funding, head of Innovation, Business Opportunities, at AIM.
To register, click here or on the link below:
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