The Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines declares that an effective intellectual and industrial property system is vital to the development of domestic and creative activity, facilitates transfer of technology, attracts foreign investments and ensures market access for Philippine products.
With this in mind, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), issued a Joint Memorandum on April 23, 2008, aimed at enhancing the capacity of state universities and colleges (SUCs) and private higher education institutions (HEIs) to harness IP assets for increasing investments and creating employment opportunities.
It also aims to improve the capacity of SUCs and HEIs to manage their IP assets, and encourages the setting-up of technology transfer offices at the institution level.
To realise these goals, the memorandum requires all SUCs and HEIs to develop policy guidelines for intellectual property.
Based on 2009 statistics from the IPO, 14 universities have submitted IP policies, while 19 are still drafting their policies. Twenty-nine universities have established their own Technology Licensing Office (TLO) or Intellectual Property Unit (IP Unit), which is primarily in charge of policy implementation, including evaluating works submitted for commercialisation, negotiating licences or joint venture agreements, and managing the university patent portfolio.
The statistics show a substantial improvement, considering that, in 2007, only seven universities submitted policies to the IPO that had been approved by their respective governing boards. This increase can be attributed to the IPO’s nationwide effort to conduct seminars on the intellectual property system.
The IP policies adopted by universities contain important provisions, such as rules on IP
ownership, guidelines on IP disclosure, evaluation and commercialisation, and the effects of research collaboration with external parties.
“The IP policies adopted by universities contain important provisions, such as rules on IP ownership and guidelines on IP disclosure, evaluation and commercialisation.”
Whether the work falls under copyright, patent or trademark law, these IP policies recognise that IP rights to works or inventions created in the course of university research or with substantial use of the university’s resources, belong not only to the university but also to the member of the faculty or the researchers of the university who are the authors or inventors of the work.
So, for example, the University of the Philippines’ IP policy provides that two-thirds of the net income derived from the commercial use of the work or invention would belong to the university and one-third to the author or inventor.
But what about the rights of university students who conduct extensive scientific research and analysis to complete a thesis or dissertation project in order to meet the requirements of the university to obtain a degree?
In our perusal of the IP policies of the universities in the Philippines, access to which was provided by the IPO, we have not come across any that address this concern. In fact, in one case, the university provides that a student may apply for a patent for his invention, provided that the patent will be assigned to the university if granted.
It is clear that the IPO and the CHED have succeeded to a large extent in the implementation of their joint memorandum requiring all state universities and private higher education institutions to adopt policy guidelines to harness and manage their IP assets.
On the other hand, because the universities do not, or refuse, to recognise the rights of their students to the IP they generate in the course of their research work to obtain their degrees, the IPO and CHED should directly address this concern by expressly stating that students’ entitlement to their IP rights should be recognised and rewarded. The discrimination against students/researchers is unfair and unjust!