Intellectual Property could be the next big thing in development in Oman when it comes to promotion of innovation-based economy, professions and protection of ideas as well as inventions. The Ministry of Social Development has just sanctioned the formation of Intellectual Property Society. The Sultan Qaboos University is preparing to introduce a Masters Programme in Intellectual Property. At the same time, the focus would be on the legal system in the framework of Intellectual Property rights and protection. The opportunities are endless and the pace has already been set by the National Innovation Strategy, NIS, spearheaded by The Research Council (TRC).
“In educational institutions, the Sultan Qaboos University is a pioneer in setting up IP policy.
They have been working on IP policy and have adapted it and it helps in the rights of the students.
If you are a student researcher, there is a clear-cut idea on how much will go to the student, supervisor and the university after all you have used the utility and equipment to bring about the patented invention,” explained Dr Halima al Badwawi, Assistant Director-General for Academic Affairs, Directorate-General of the College of Applied Sciences at the Ministry of Higher Education, Member of the Intellectual Property Pillar of the NIS.
One of the capacity-building activities by the TRC is to do Post-Graduate degrees in IP and even PhD. “We have a couple of people now and the major has been introduced in the National Scholarship Programme, which is hosted by Ministry of Higher Education.
One of the plans is to have an IP office in the Sultanate that would be a centre for all the activities and coordinating them with those related to IP in the Sultanate.
To start with, the idea is to be under the TRC umbrella and later to have a separate entity of its own, which would be able to generate revenue for the country as people would have to pay fees for the patent to be checked/reviewed,” added Dr Al Badwawi.
At present, there is a department for Intellectual Property Rights at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, where the copyrights are registered.
“We have two sets of intellectual properties such as copyrights for music and written work.
At the same time, we have work based on scientific designs such as a prototype and there is a need to protect them.
And you can go there to register.
A new addition to the department is that you can register your patent in Oman.
The prototype will be checked in Oman and registered in Oman as well as ideas,” said a member of the IP Pillar of NIS.
Until now individuals were sending their ideas to be checked and reviewed by IP Offices in UK or USA for it to be registered. “The ideas were able to be registered but under the name of the respective countries.
But now they can be registered here.”
Many inventors in the past would take the products abroad to further their projects.
But now, there are legal offices in Oman that can help inventors present their concept on a formal proposal. “You really need a professional team to present the right set of information.
Earlier, individuals were going through the Gulf IP Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian IP Office or the US IP Office.
We now have this facility here.
We are having registrations in Oman but not highly scientific products or research.” “We need to train people who qualify to become IP examiners. It is a long process. Luckily, it has started and the TRC has contacted all the higher educational institutions and other organisations to have a focal point in each of these entities. The focal points must have academic background at the same time some administrative power and they have to be part of the programme for a particular duration in order to build the capacity to be the linkage between the institution, TRC as well as the intellectual property department at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
As they are being trained, the focal points will also go back to their institutions to train the students through lectures and workshops on all the issues related to IP. So the focal points are the first filter.”
The focal points will also search through the database whether the submitted idea is original or needs further work, revision or not worthy. If the institutional committee agrees, then it is moved to the third party — the IP Department in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
The key, however, is to have as many patents as possible.
Eventually, only the successful projects that can sustain through the stages will reach the market, because it is not just an idea, but how to take the idea to the market, which will also require capital.
But the inventors now have the process much easier as the services would be available here.