Country Focus – Intellectual Property Education in Belarus
The new National Library symbolizes Belarus’ drive for innovation in education, design and technology. (Photo courtesy of NCIP)
"Statistics show that up to 80 percent of the increase in the gross domestic product of developed countries over the last few years was achieved through innovation and the effective use of intellectual property (IP)," says Mr. Leonid Voronetsky, the Director General of Belarus’ National Center of Intellectual Property (NCIP). With this in mind, Belarus has undertaken a series of IP-related educational initiatives aimed at boosting the economic return from innovation-based research.
Over the last five years, studies by the Ministry of Education have shown a steady rise in the volume of research performed in state funded universities. Each year 700 to 800 technological innovations come out of Belarus’ institutions of higher education, spanning all the major sectors of the economy, and educational institutions are now filing one in four of all national applications for inventions and utility models. But these statistics hide a problem, namely a comparative lack of vigorous innovation in the corporate sector.
Analysis of research and production facilities in Belarus demonstrated that problems relating to legal protection and, in particular, management of IP at the corporate level were eroding the competitive advantages of Belarus’ enterprises. The government has therefore focused on human resources training in the area of IP as a key component in its efforts to stimulate innovative activities in Belarus.
Training Center opens its doors
In 2004, by order of the President of the Republic, the Training Center of Intellectual Property was created within the NCIP structure. From the start, the Training Center worked closely with the WIPO Worldwide Academy. In November 2004 WIPO Deputy Director General Philippe Petit and NCIP Director General Leonid Voronetsky signed a Protocol on Cooperation, setting out details of the technical assistance which WIPO would provide. This included modern computer hardware and software, IP teaching materials and methods, and free access to distance learning courses.
In 2005 alone, some 2,000 people participated in the courses, seminars and workshops offered by the Training Center. A consultation service within the Training Center caters for the increasing demand for more specialized courses, offering applicants expert advice and information. The consultation service, which is also used by applicants from neighboring countries such as Latvia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, proved so popular that the NCIP has now initiated a similar service on the premises of the Scientific and Technical Library. In the next few years, a network of consultation services will be developed in all major regions of Belarus.
To address the problems related to the management of IP in the corporate sector, courses on the "Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Management," are being introduced in higher education and specialized secondary-education institutions for the 2006/2007 academic year. The curriculum, designed to complement students’ professional skills, covers both theoretical and practical aspects, including national and international IP legislation; how to obtain IP rights in Belarus and abroad; patent information and search methods; infringement and enforcement of IP rights; and IP valuation and licensing.
Coordinating efforts across sectors
In order to ensure coordination of efforts to improve IP training, the government set up the Interagency Advisory Board on IP education in 2005. It is composed of representatives from various state agencies, educational institutions, the National Academy of Sciences, well-known researchers and IP professionals. The main objectives of the Advisory Board are to improve the "Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Management" curriculum; to develop improved methods and materials for teaching IP; and to coordinate the activities of all interested parties in solving the problems related to IP teaching and training.
The joint IP education programs developed by WIPO and NCIP received fresh impetus in May when WIPO and the Eurasian Patent Organization held an international conference on IP education and training in Minsk. The event attracted 300 participants from more than 20 countries to discuss the development of human resources as a means of stimulating innovative activity and the current state of IP education and training. The conference defined the new standards required in IP education and training to guarantee quality, accessibility and effectiveness. It further highlighted the need to popularize IP though outreach activities, such as national competitions among young people. Further steps were taken to enhance cooperation between NCIP and the Russian State Educational Institute of Intellectual Property, in coordination with the WIPO Worldwide Academy, with a view to creating a regional IP training center in Belarus.
The demand from an expanding number of fields – in both business and academia – testifies to the need for well focused IP training programs in Belarus to keep pace with the global marketplace and economic activities. Working with the Interagency Board, the Training Center at NCIP will create more courses and seminars targeted at specific groups as well as new services for IP stakeholders.
|Science in School – The Sky’s the Limit|
Belarus launched a program in the mid-1990s to attract young people to scientific research. Alexey Kolos, a young astronomy enthusiast from Minsk, is a beneficiary of this program. Alexey was given the opportunity to spend several years working with the astronomer Evgeniy Tchaykovky on a basic idea for a new telescope which he began to develop during his fourth year of school.
In a normal telescope only five percent of the instrument is required for observation. The rest consists of the lifting bar and pipe, which ensure the fine movement necessary to observe objects in space. Alexey discovered previously unknown characteristics of a mirror that could function simultaneously as a telescope and a coelostat, which is an optical device used to follow the path of a celestial body and reflect its light into a telescope.
Jointly they designed the Kolos-Tchaykovky Telescope-Coelostat. The new telescope needs neither pipe nor lifting bar, and weighs 100 times less than a conventional telescope of the same strength. A Belarusian patent application (BY20030032) was filed for the new instrument, which can be used to observe both astronomical and terrestrial objects at any geographical latitude. The telescope was tested by experts at the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, who noted that Alexey’s discovery would allow the creation of a range of simple, multi-purpose, inexpensive telescopes for use by amateurs and scientific researchers alike.
Area: 207,600 km2
Population: 10.3 million
Languages: Belarusian and Russian
Main Industries: heavy machinery and tools, motorcycles, televisions, chemical fibers, textiles
Belarus is a landlocked independent republic of Eastern Europe. Belarus' economy in 2005 posted an 8 percent growth and the government has been successful in lowering inflation over the past few years. Belarus is currently negotiating with Russia, its biggest trade partner, to better integrate the two nation’s economies.