Masterclass in Morocco: How the IAP Upskills its Experts

June 18, 2020

Until recently, few Moroccan inventors had access to patent experts. As a result, nearly half of the individuals who applied for patents with the Moroccan Office of Industrial and Commercial Property (OMPIC) found their applications rejected, often based only on the formalities. The team at OMPIC believed these inventors deserved a chance to have their ideas evaluated on the merits. They partnered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to launch the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) to help local inventors get expert advice to navigate the patent system.

IAP expert, Mr. Mohammed El Harzli (photo: courtesy of Mr. Mohammed El Harzli).

Patent experts serve as the soul of the IAP. They donate their time and intellect to help under resourced inventors in their country, from drafting a patent application to corresponding with OMPIC. Volunteer Mohammed El Harzli describes how the experience has been gratifying for him, both “because of the exchanges that take place with the inventor” and as “an action to make our solidarity with our fellow citizens.”

Since the program’s inception, IAP volunteers helped more than 70 innovators in Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, the Philippines, and South Africa. Each participating country customized the program to match their own innovation ecosystem. In the case of Morocco, OMPIC saw the Inventor Assistance Program as an opportunity to engage and upskill a passionate group of expert inventors to help the countries innovators.

Today, the patent profession in Morocco is small with only a few registered IP attorneys. To encourage more experts to get involved, in 2018 OMPIC allowed additional experts to provide their services through the Inventor Assistance Program. This includes active inventor association members with significant patent experience.

To sharpen the skills of this new crop of experts, WIPO and OMPIC organized a local Patent Drafting Workshop in Morocco in October 2019. The Workshop’s participants, including IAP volunteers and OMPIC examiners, enhanced their skills through classroom instruction and hands on exercises. The training included a special focus on interviewing inventors to maximize the potential value of the resulting patent application.

The hands-on learning continued beyond the classroom through a mentorship component. Participants were paired with a patent attorney to draft an entire patent application from scratch with the support of their mentor. While traditionally these exercises have been purely hypothetical, two participants are working on drafts to support IAP beneficiaries.

IAP expert, Mr. Abdelhaq Ammani (photo: courtesy of Mr. Abdelhaq Ammani).

This collaboration delivers benefits to inventors, experts, and the local patent office. According to Inventor Assistance Program volunteer Abdelhaq Ammani, “The IAP opens a window on the professional level in the field of intellectual property advice. It will inevitably contribute in the medium term to the emergence of a generation of inventors, but also of experts in drafting patent applications through the various training programs available to stakeholders.”

Skilled patent professionals play a crucial role in supporting a country’s innovation ecosystem. Many countries struggle to establish patent professions in the absence of clear local demand. But without these specialists, the potential of local innovation may be vanish.

The Inventor Assistance Program helps build demand for patent professionals. Combined with specialized training like WIPO’s Patent Drafting Program, countries can position themselves to transform ideas into intellectual assets. Ultimately, this enhanced local capacity can create jobs and a pathway to a knowledge based economy.

Want to learn more about the Inventor Assistance Program?

Visit the program’s website to learn more about how to apply as an inventor, become a volunteer or a sponsor of the program.