University of the Philippines Los Baños

A seminar on intellectual property and technology transfer, “Patents for Humanity: Moving Innovations to Where Most Needed,” was hosted by the National Institute for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) on July 18. Dr. Stanley P. Kowalski, director of the International Technology Transfer Institute (ITTI), was the key speaker at the seminar.

ITTI is a capacity building resource developed at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Kowalski, a geneticist and a lawyer, discussed the complexities behind technology development and intellectual property. He noted how certain technologies were developed for the betterment of humanity, but were weighed down by patent issues. Kowalski cited as example the ‘Golden Rice,’ a genetically modified rice Law professor-geneticist talks about IP and tech transfer engineered to produce pro-Vitamin A and touted as cure for widespread vitamin A deficiency in Third World countries.

According to him, the problem with golden rice is that around 70 patents were filed on the genetically modified genes and constructs used in creating the technology. This poses a challenge in technology transfer and commercialization, especially in developing countries where it is really needed.

“Unfortunately, the IP management of golden rice was developed by nondeveloping countries,” Kowalksi said. Thus, it is of great importance to be familiar with the patent landscape in developing countries and the procedures and processes involved.

He also cited several ‘humanitarian technologies and innovations’ that need to hurdle the IP and technology transfer issues. These include Chagas disease vaccine, parasitic roundworm vaccine, phytoremediation of dioxin, droughtresistant maize, cholera vaccine, ‘Red Detect’ landmine detection technology, and bionic prosthetic limb.

According to Kowalski, the goal of ITTI is to focus on helping academic and governmental research organizations build technology transfer offices. These offices will manage the acquisition of proprietary knowledge to augment technology development and the transfer of new technologies to the marketplace once they are developed.

Dr. Rey Ebora, BIOTECH director who had collaborated with Dr. Kowalski in the past, said that ITTI’s initiatives and assistance will be very helpful for the Institute and the University.