Our principal, Mr. P. Kandiah, was recently invited to give a presentation on “Understanding and Protecting Intellectual Property Rights” for the Regional Young Women Researchers Workshop.
The presentation provided an overview of what Intellectual Property (IP) is, with a detailed account of the current IP rights available to scientists/researchers in Malaysia. Emphasis was placed on patents, since they are the IP rights most crucial to scientists. There was an in-depth discussion on commercialisation of research, and the issues surrounding the publication of research were also addressed. Publication is a particularly tricky issue for scientists, who are often eager to get their findings out into the public domain, seeing that published work provides a form of recognition and contributes to the status of the scientist. However at the same time publication can negate novelty, preventing the owner from obtaining a patent. Obtaining a patent is crucial if the researcher wants to commercialise their findings, as no investors are interested in work that is readily available to the public.
The presentation also examined the gender differences of patenting activity. A study conducted by the US Patent and Trademark office (USPTO), “Buttons to Biotech”, identified that within the US, women on average obtain patents at a significantly lower rate than their male counterparts. The study found that women inventors accounted for only 10% of patents as at 1998.
Although slightly outdated, the data illustrates that there is a huge disparity between genders despite an increasing amount of women entering technology and scientific fields. Another study on the US biotechnology industry supported the above findings and also interestingly revealed that the percentage of patents obtained by groups comprised solely of women was much smaller than those compared to groups comprised solely of males. Further research needs to be conducted into why this is the case, whether it is because there are less technically-capable women in the industry, or that the women did not need to work in large groups to come up with patentable inventions