18 May 2023
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La Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas define patente como: un título que reconoce el derecho de explotar en exclusiva una invención. Esto impide a otros su fabricación, venta o utilización sin consentimiento del titular
Today we talk to Pedro Cartagena, industrial property expert at the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (SPTO) and coordinator of the European cooperation project in Egypt that has been working for two years to improve the Egyptian patent system.
Why is it important to have a patented product?
In a company, whether small or large, it is important to have a patented innovation, because most of the time this patent constitutes the success of your business. Keep in mind that a patent not only gives you a monopoly on the exploitation of what you protect, but also prevents your competitors from commercialising the innovation you have patented. In addition, a patent generally gives prestige to your company and, when necessary, can also become a means of financing. Patents can be sold, or you can allow another company to use them in whole or in part in exchange for an agreed remuneration.
How many innovations are patented each year in Egypt?
About 2,000 patents are applied for in Egypt every year, which is a rather low number considering the population of about 100 million. However, more than the population, what usually influences patent applications is the degree of development of the country and its spending on R&D, as this is what generates innovations, and these innovations could be patented. In the case of Egypt, we are talking about a developing country with a per capita income considered to be medium-low, so it is quite logical that it has this number of applications.
Is it more difficult for SMEs and researchers to patent their innovations?
SMEs and researchers are two completely different sectors, but they have in common that they patent very little. This is mainly because they are largely unaware of both the patent system and the advantages of patenting.
In the case of researchers, they still give priority to publishing the results of their research before applying for a patent, when the two things are completely compatible, if they are done in a synchronised way. In other words, first you apply for a patent and then you can publish the results of your research.
In the case of SMEs, sometimes they don’t even know that they have something they can patent, and they think that it is an expensive and complicated procedure and that it is only for big companies. In the European project we have done with the Egyptian office, we have worked to strengthen the office’s relations with the research community in universities and research centres in Egypt. In addition, we have also established a strategy to bring patents closer to small and medium-sized enterprises and a whole series of informative materials have been developed to inform them of the advantages of patents for their business.
How can the public benefit from an innovation being patented?
The public will generally benefit from any innovation that is commercialised and, on the market, whether it is patented or not. What is important for society is that what the patent system does is to encourage innovation, and by encouraging innovation, new products or processes will be produced that will be innovative and will contribute to the greater well-being of society.
What has been achieved with this project in Egypt and what challenges remain to be addressed?
During these more than two years of the project, beneficial results have been achieved for the Egyptian office in terms of greater outreach to researchers and SMEs, as I mentioned earlier. But in addition to this, more than 50 patent examiners have been trained so that they in turn can train future examiners who join the office and can also participate in giving talks to SMEs and researchers about the patent system and its advantages, which in some way will also contribute to increasing patent applications.
In addition, different work manuals have also been drawn up for some of the departments and units of the office. But perhaps the most important thing, as I also mentioned before, is the achievement of the ISO 9001 2015 certification for quality management systems for companies and institutions. This makes the Egyptian office one of the most relevant offices in the African region.
As for the challenges facing the Egyptian patent office, it is like most patent offices in the rest of the world, which is basically to ensure that small and medium-sized companies integrate a patent culture into their business strategies, that they patent more, and that these patents are also of high quality.
What do you bring back to Spain both professionally and personally?
As a professional, during this time I have learned a different way of working and of approaching things and problems, since living in Spain we don’t realise that in general, in the European Union, everything is standardised and if you move from one country to another there are no major differences in terms of developing your professional activity.
However, when you arrive in Egypt, although it is a country that in your normal life is not excessively different from what you are used to, because it is a Mediterranean country, on a professional level you do notice a lot of differences.
On a personal level, I have brought back an incredible experience, and, above all, I have realised how privileged we are to have practically everything and sometimes even more than we need, not only to develop our professional activity, but also for our personal life.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of the person who write them.