Friday, 19 March 2010

Technology Transfer Office promotes awareness of Intellectual Property Act

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The CPUT Technology Transfer Office recently hosted an engagement session by members of the National Department of Science and Technology (DST) on the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act.

The Act, which comes into effect on 15 April this year, regulates the manner in which Intellectual Property emanating from publicly funded research is identified, protected, utilised and commercialised.

Addressing CPUT researchers and other staff members on 11 March 2010, DST Specialist in Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Nomkhosi Madwe said the Act aimed to tackle inconsistencies in the way in which institutions manage intellectual property in South Africa.

She said the legislation would help pass on the social and economic benefits of publicly funded research which emanates from academic institutions to South African society.

The DST representative cited the example of the successful rise of the biotechnology industry in the United States, which could be attributed to similar legislation.

According to the DST, although their Department’s budget for publicly funded research is currently R4 billion, only 5% of current South African patents are based on research derived from government funding.

Under the Act, each institution that receives public funds is obliged to create capacity by, for example, setting up a Technology Transfer Office to assist researchers at the institution with matters pertaining to the protection and commercialisation of their research, the implementation of the Act and the regulations in general.

The Act entitles researchers, whose intellectual property was derived from publicly funded research to 20% of initial gross revenue from the commercialisation of that intellectual property and 30% of nett revenue. In such circumstances, ownership of the intellectual property lies with the institution.

In projects that are jointly subsidised by the government and private donors, the Act allows for joint ownership of intellectual property.

Intellectual property not derived from government sponsorship does not fall under the Act.

“The Act should not be viewed in isolation. It is part of a ten-year innovation plan. We are trying to move South Africa from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy,” Madwe said.

Theo Hendrickse, outgoing Director of the Technology Transfer Office, responded to the presentation by acknowledging that although this is new territory for CPUT, getting the process right would greatly benefit the institution’s stakeholders.

“This is not about compliance. This is about change management” he said.

Hendrickse indicated that the DST presentation was the first of many conversations that the Technology Transfer Office would facilitate at the institution in connection with this new legislation.

By Ilana Abratt

Photograph: (back) Director of the CPUT Technology Transfer Office Theo Hendrickse, DST Deputy Director: Technical Skills Mavis Nyatlo, Karen Miller of the CPUT Technology Transfer Office (front) DST Specialist in Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Nomkhosi Madwe, CPUT Technology Promotion Coordinator Halimah Rabiu

Written by CPUT News

Email: news@cput.ac.za