Supporting inventors

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In a radio interview last week, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar mentioned a study published in Forbes magazine that cites the number of inventions and patents as one measurement of the economic success of a country.

The world’s biggest economy proves this as, in 2016, a total 1,338,503 inventions were filed in China’s patent office alone, out of a global total of 3.1 million filings based on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) 2017 report on worldwide applications for patents, trademarks and industrial designs.

The world’s second biggest economy, the United States, is far behind at second place with a total 605,571 applications.

The report also counted a total 404,208 patents granted in China followed by the US with 303,049 in 2016. The Philippines had only 3,419 patent applications and 4,006 patents granted that same year.

Recognizing patents as another factor to boost the economy, President Rodrigo Duterte signed in June Republic Act 11035 or the Balik Scientist Act, which provides incentives and assistance to returning Filipino experts, scientists, technologists and engineers. Though primarily aimed at beefing up the small pool of local scientists and engineers, the law is in line with the thrust of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) to increase the number of inventions and patents filed with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

The Balik Scientist Act does not mean that the government is amiss in supporting Filipino inventors and innovators. In fact, there is already the Republic Act 7459 or Inventors and Invention Incentives Act of 1992 which provides cash rewards to patented Filipino inventions, utility models, industrial design and even creative research. Each of the four categories offers cash reward to the best three ideas. For inventions, the best gets P100,000, second at P50,000 and third at 20,000.

For utility models and industrial designs, the best will have a cash prize of P50,000, second at P20,000 and third at P10,000. For research, it’s P20,000, P10,000 and P5,000.

RA 7459 gives inventors tax incentives like exemption from payment of license fees, permit fees and other business taxes in the development of their particular inventions. Technologies shall be exempted from all kinds of taxes during the first 10 years from the date of the first sale. The law also created the Inventions Development Assistance Fund and Invention Guarantee Fund plus it offers loan assistance for the commercial production of an invention.

DoST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the agency helps inventors get a patent, including shouldering the expense for a patent application and lawyer. DoST also helps inventors create prototypes, produce a limited number of the invention and provide technical assistance through its Technology Application and Promotion Institute as well as from its affiliated universities.

One example of a beneficiary was Dr. Raul Destura of the UP College of Medicine. De la Peña said Destura’s dengue detection kit (Biotek-M™Dengue aqua Kit) was one of three Filipino inventions that the DoST entered in the 46th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva in Switzerland on 15 to 21 April. The kit, which helps detect dengue infection within five hours and at a fraction of the cost of conventional test, won a gold prize in the contest and later was mass-produced after the Department of Health contracted its use. Foreign parties also are now trying to partner with Destura to produce the already patented life-saving kit for other countries, revealed De La Peña.

There are many other Filipino scientists whose inventions can help further develop the economy aside from solving social problems, according to De La Peña. There is Noli Dazo’s Water Fuel Hydrogen generator that reportedly can run an air-conditioning unit, television, refrigerator, water pump, other gadgets and even start a vehicle without producing pollutants.

DoST also funded and entered in the Geneva inventions contest the Smart Technology Surface of Dr. Nestor Tiglao, director of the Computer Center of University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Engineering. The electronic sensor system converts any surface into a tap-sensitive device where one can write recording into a computer or for teaching.

There is the Salamander amphibious tricycle of car customizer Atoy Llave that can negotiate in flooded streets or shuttle people from island to island. Another is a gadget that removes moisture seeping into a car engine.

Andanar said for 10 years he had been sending the car given by his wife (diesel-powered 2009 model) to the repair shop but only one week passed and it started belching smoke again. He tried the anti-smoke belching device of former marine chief engineer Elvis Selisana and installed it in the car. The Seco-green Tech (Thehco Green Technology) device lessened emission after one week and for a few months now it hasn’t emitted smoke. It also lessened the car’s fuel consumption by 30 percent and made it run faster. Andanar also tried it on his van and the same thing happened.

Although developed and tested in Malaysia, where Selisana previously worked, the inventor wants to produce it in the country for the benefit of Filipinos.

“Just imagine if all buses and diesel-powered vehicles were installed with this technology – it would mean big savings on fuel. At the same time, your car will become Euro 4-/Euro 6-compliant with just that one gadget,” Andanar said.

De la Peña said the DoST is now prioritizing support for waste-to-energy technologies because it solves two problems in one go: waste and energy. Incidentally, one such technology was invented that converts waste not into electricity but to diesel-kerosene. The inventor has already sold five units to a private company in Angat, Bulacan, according to De La Peña.

Hopefully, local inventors and scientists can look forward to getting more support from the government when Duterte meets them one of these days to give them his personal appreciation.

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