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World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Deputy Director General John Sandage paid a courtesy call to DTI Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr last week at the DTI headquarters in Makati City. During the meeting, Sandage said that the IAP will assist inventors or small companies by providing free legal counsel and information regarding the patent system. Photo by Little Wing Luna/DTI.

Filipino inventors can now access free legal advice on international patenting. DTI Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr lauded the decision of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to accept the Philippines as one of the pilot country members under their new joint initiative dubbed the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP).

Secretary Cristobal recently met with top officials of WIPO, including WIPO Deputy Director General John Sandage, at the DTI headquarters in Makati City to discuss the mechanics of IAP, whose membership is open to developing countries and patent attorneys who accept the guiding principles of the program. “I recall as early as 2005, during my term as Director General of IPOPHL, we already saw the importance of making IP relevant to the economic well being of the country. “ Secretary Cristobal said. “These programs will encourage Filipino inventors to bring their technologies to the world.”

Sandage said inventors from member countries will be given free legal advice from patent attorneys to protect their inventions. He explained the free legal advice will help alleviate inventors from the exorbitant costs of filing patent applications.

IAP was established by WEF and WIPO to make the IP system more accessible to financially strapped inventors of technologies and concepts that show much potential. WIPO Deputy Director John Sandage said IAP will assist inventors or small companies by referring them to patent attorneys. According to the Guiding Principles of the IAP, governments that become IAP members are expected to actively participate in the local implementation and tailoring of the program to the local needs and practice of inventors and qualified IP counsel in their country, and to help promote the program inside the country, including outreach efforts to inform inventors of the program’s existence and eligibility criteria.

The IAP started as a pilot program in Colombia last year and will begin setting up a partnership program among the national governments of each member country, WIPO, WEF and volunteer legal counsels. Qualifying countries, inventors and companies will be accepted as members once they agree to the terms of Guild Principles drawn up for IAP. Sandage noted that the Philippines is among the first three countries that qualified to be a member of IAP. The two other member countries are Colombia and Morocco.

Secretary Cristobal said the Philippine government has taken note of the dramatic changes that have been taking place in the Philippine IP system during the last 15 years.“From a purely regulatory agency, it has evolved into one that espouses an orientation that capitalizes on the development aspects of IP,” he said. He also noted that WIPO has long been the country’s staunch partner in the country’s endeavor to make its IP at par with global standards.