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Inventor Assistance Program Celebrates 50 Granted Patents - WIPO

19-Mar-2024 | Source : The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) | Visits : 822

GENEVA - 50 patents have been granted with the support of the Inventor Assistance Program’s volunteers to innovators, who can now enjoy the benefits of theses valuable assets, according to the official website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Innovation is everywhere. From the bustling streets of Lima to wilds of South Africa, ordinary people are constantly creating ingenious solutions to the problems facing them and their communities. Yet the promise of innovation-fueled growth remains mostly unfulfilled. All too often, inventors lack the time or resources to navigate the patenting process or to hire a patent attorney who can guide them through it. Without proper protection, they are unable to capitalize on their promising ideas.

WIPO’s Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) was founded on the belief that all inventors, regardless of their socioeconomic status, deserve the chance to have their ideas evaluated and protected on their merits. To make this a reality, the IAP pairs individuals and small businesses with limited resources with volunteer patent specialists. The volunteers have the opportunity to make a positive difference in their local community, and the inventors benefit from expert patent drafting and prosecution services – all free of charge.

“Every innovator deserves a chance to have their idea on the market. Thus, the first step is getting IP protection, and that is the driving force behind the IAP. By offering assistance to local innovators, the Program has the potential to shape a country's innovation ecosystem and contribute to its economic growth.” Marco M. Alemán, WIPO Assistant Director General

Fifty promising inventions

Introduced as a pilot project in Colombia in 2015, the IAP now covers nine countries: Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and South Africa. Over the past eight years, the IAP has helped more than 200 beneficiaries, including 47 small businesses, protect their inventions both locally and internationally.

These inventions range from solving climate change and environmental problems, such as a method for maximizing the efficiency of wind turbines (Virendra Ramlakan, South Africa), energy-generating chutes (Erick Ndlovu, South Africa), an activated sludge aeration method with the use of AI (Camilo Jesús Huneeus Guzmán and Marcos César Amor Pérez Leiva, Chile) an application that eliminates the high consumption of water (Miguel Gilberto Montoya Gallo, Ecuador) or a machine for converting food waste into animal feed (Gonzalo Jiménez Vásquez, Colombia), to the life-changing, like the invention that helps the visually impaired distinguish coins (César Martínez Gónzalez, Colombia), a brain-controlled lower limb prosthesis (Abdelilah Ajouihad, Morocco) or an artificial nerve guidance for the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries (Lizah B. Dorao, Philippines); contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The fiftieth patent was granted to Jairo Martínez Escobar, a Colombian inventor who has patented a system for capturing the energy of the human body as it moves. His application was protected as result of a special project aimed at growing the patent drafting community in Colombia.

Created to respond to growing demand for patent applications in Colombia, Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC), Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, teamed up with WIPO to create the IAP Patent Drafting Clinic. In the Clinic, expert patent attorneys mentor a group of volunteers, supporting their journey to learn of to draft patents. Each volunteer works at an academic or research institution and will use their newly acquired skills to support their organizations. Volunteers and mentors use IAP cases to support the Program’s beneficiaries while they learn.

Jairo’s invention was made possible through this Clinic with support from IAP volunteer Andrés Casas Santofimio, volunteer drafters Catalina Sánchez and Efrén Vásquez, and Clinic expert Carolina Vargas from the IP law firm Cavelier Abogados. Carolina Vargas and Néstor Bejarano from Lloreda Camacho & Co continue to mentor new IAP cases building the next generation of drafters.

Maribel Zamata Quispe (Peru): “I couldn’t have managed on my own”

IAP’s beneficiaries come from all walks of life. A typical story is that of Peruvian educator Maribel Zamata Quispe, whose invention – a compost bin that reduces foul odors – was granted a patent in 2022. Thanks to the IAP, this lifelong Lima resident has grown from someone who “didn’t even know about patents” to an ambitious and confident user of national and international IP systems.

A passion for gardening cultivated Maribel’s interest in composting.

“Every time I see someone throw organic waste into the street, I think, this has valu. It’s like throwing money away.” Maribel Zamata Quispe said.

With the help of her teenage sons, José and César, Maribel decided to capture that value by designing an easy-to-use compost bin for urban areas. Over time, the family refined their invention to reduce bad smells, minimize water use and avoid attracting insects and pests – all common issues associated with composting in built-up areas.

Struggling to protect her invention, Maribel applied to the IAP and was paired with a volunteer from ClarkeModet Peru, a law firm specializing in IP.

“Communication with the volunteer was always excellent. They advised me on what decisions to make and were always on top of the whole process, which I couldn’t have managed on my own.” Maribel Zamata Quispe said.

Buoyed by last year’s success of her first granted patent, which named her two sons as co-inventors, Maribel has gone on to file two other patent applications in Peru. She has also used the WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – which enables inventors to seek protection for their invention in in a large number of countries simultaneously by filing a single international patent application, and submitted three PCT applications with the assistance of the KUO IP law firm. Maribel’s hope is that her invention will be used more widely in cities and maybe even adapted to suit farming needs.

Partners in innovation

Maribel’s praise for the IAP is echoed by other beneficiaries. “I am really grateful for the IAP,” says Ettienne Goutier, the South African inventor of an automatic tire inflation system for off-road cars.

“Were it not for the IAP my hopes for a patent would have died a sudden death.” Ettienne Goutier said.

For Álvaro Leal, whose lime pulping machine was granted a patent in Colombia in 2020, “the program made me feel like I exist – like what I’m doing has significant impact.”

Moroccan entrepreneur Kenza Ababou, who designed a fraud-proof discount system for retailers, believes that, “without the Program, I would never have filed or even drafted my patent application. So I hope the IAP will continue helping inventors like me.”

Volunteers, too, are happy to share their praise of the innovative program.

“For me, it is important to volunteer for the IAP because it allows me to make a tangible contribution to society. The program also gives me the opportunity to develop my skills, learn new things and cultivate values such as solidarity, empathy and altruism.” Professor Omar Tanane of Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morocco said.

Cinthia Kuo Carreño, Director of KUO IP, Peru, will never forget the tears and words of gratitude of Jose Francisco Luna Saldaña, over 80 years old man, upon receiving the news of having obtained his patent within the framework of the IAP: “He reminded me that there is no age to invent and that, in some cases, the patent is more than a title, it can become part of a person's life project”.

Claudia Montoya, CEO of Colombian IP specialists Pilar, agrees: “I have realized that every inventor has a dream to fulfill with their invention, so for me to support them is like helping them to achieve their dream.”

“As an inventor myself, I empathize with the needs of fellow inventors concerning Intellectual Property. Every inventor deserves recognition for their technological contributions, irrespective of their financial situation. I am here to advocate for collaboration, urging us to work together to ensure that no innovative mind remains unrecognized.” Dr. Armando Reosura, IP Management Office Director of Carlos Hilado Memorial State University, the Philippines, said.

The IAP volunteers believe also that they contribute to the socio-economic development of their countries.

For James Davies, Partner, Adams & Adams, South Africa, “It was gratifying to be able to help the local company on a pro bono basis because, in addition to fostering local innovation, this particular invention has strong environmental and socio-economic benefits.”

“It is important for me to participate in the Program to contribute to the development of Ecuador, supporting equal access to opportunities for all,” says Maria Cecilia Romoleroux, Partner, CorralRosales, Ecuador.

IAP Steering Committee Chair David Kappos sees how important the volunteers’ work and dedication to the Program is.

“My heartfelt thanks go out to the many attorneys who have volunteered to assist worthy inventors as part of this program. Those attorneys give their time and expertise that is the core of the IAP’s success. They also receive much in return: training in new technologies and skills, enhanced networks in their home countries and abroad, and opportunities to build their client networks.” David Kappos, IAP Steering Committee Chair said.

Testimonies like these are encouraging signs that the IAP is on track to achieve its goal of increasing the use of national and international patent systems. Ultimately, the IAP aims to unleash the global potential for positive innovation.

“We are all, by nature, innovators – even if we don’t realize it. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing your ideas turned into something tangible though a patent.” Maribel Zamata Quispe said.

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