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Thursday, 12 June 2008

CPUT hosts international workshop on intellectual property

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The Cape Peninsula University of Technology hosted a World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) workshop on 12 May 2008. WIPO is a specialised agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

The workshop included three representatives from WIPO, Geneva, Switzerland and one from Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO) Pretoria. CIPRO is an agency that resulted from a merger between the South African Companies Registration Office (SACRO) and the South African Patents and Trademarks Office (SAPTO). One of its functions is to assist South African learning institutions in protecting and developing their intellectual property. CIPRO has worked in conjunction with WIPO for four years and used CPUT as a pilot for its 2004 awareness campaign.

At the recent workshop, WIPO Senior Director Mr Philip Thomas spoke about the role of WIPO and the importance of patents. He discussed how protecting intellectual property can benefit institutions and develop research environments. He defined a patent as an exclusive right granted for an invention, such as a product or process that offers a new technical solution to a problem.

Presenting on a similar topic was WIPO Senior Program Officer Mrs Nyalleng Pii. She highlighted the main features of patent rights and how the property rights of patents may be sold or licensed.

A representative from the University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal, Ms Marta Catarino presented on how to use patents and the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) to obtain commercial returns from research. She noted that there is an increasing expectation on research institutions to contribute to the economy through knowledge transfer and explained how the University of Minho has handled codes of practice for managing and commercialising intellectual property.

CPUT Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Partnerships Dr Chris Nhlapo said the workshop had come at the right time as CPUT is in need of guidance regarding intellectual property.

Dr Nhlapo said that at the moment CPUT is at a stage where it can commercialise its innovations. “But for now we will be concentrating on improving the patent filing systems for the institution and putting the institution on the map in terms of patent systems,” he added.

He continued, “It is now time for academics to move away from academic publication houses and concentrate on a wider coverage like commercialisation.” Dr Nhlapo encouraged all stakeholders not to only to seed invention but also to see that these inventions are put to practice, protected and commercialised for the benefit of the nation’s economy as a whole.

CPUT Director of Contract Research Dr Shaheed Hartley was one of the academics who attended the workshop. He said that the workshop was informative as it showed the institution how it could develop its intellectual property and how it could supplement its income through innovation and technology transfer. Dr Nhlapo concluded the workshop by thanking all the representatives from both organisations for participating in the workshop. He described the workshop as “an eye opener” and said that the attendance and the response from staff members was overwhelming.

By Ruth Chisesa, Marketing and Communication Department

Photograph: Back from left to right: Dr Johan Esterhuyse (CPUT), Dr Oluwafemi Oguntibeju (CPUT), Dr Shaheed Hartley (CPUT), Mr Phillip Thomas (WIPO), Adv Lionel Harper (CPUT). Front from left to right: Dr Thembeka Mpako-Ntusi (CPUT), Prof Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga (CPUT), Ms Nyalleng Pii (WIPO), Dr Chris Nhlapo (CPUT), Ms Marta Catarino (TecMinho), Ms Letitia Roeloffse (CIPRO)

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za