Serving Up Impact: A Colombian Conversation on Patents, IAP and Edible Tableware

November 30, 2020

Setting the table for local inventors to succeed, the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) of Colombia, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) organized a virtual conversation. The purpose: to highlight one of Colombia’s most popular recipes for innovation success, the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP). Since its inception, the IAP has supported 90 inventors navigate their local patent system through the Program’s volunteers. As the first country to join the IAP, given the Colombia’s brightest minds have a better chance than ever in securing a patent.

(Image: GettyImages/ andresr)

During the event, participants heard from key innovation stakeholders in Colombia, from local innovators who had used the system to launch their own enterprises to volunteer patent professionals who put pro bono into practice. The SIC, who leads the Colombia’s engagement in the IAP, facilitated the conversation. Ms. María José Lamus Becerra, Superintendente Delegada for Industrial Property (SIC), spoke about the role of the patent office in introducing the IAP to Colombia. She shared that in addition to her organization’s role of registering and protecting industrial property rights, the SIC is “an important and determining actor to increase the number of patents, and good quality patents, for the Colombian system.” She explained that programs like the IAP “are crucial to make Colombian patents an important tool for the market”.

In the face of the pandemic, more of us are reimaging our future though. It has never been more crucial to support local innovators and provide them guidance on how to protect their technologies. The result of that protection might even transform an inventor’s life. As Mr. Marco Alemàn, Director, Patent Law Division of WIPO, observed, “small opportunities can make big enterprises”. The IAP has been fundamental not only in making the patent system more accessible to local innovators, but also in supporting patent offices in playing their role of promoting an active use of patents to create local wealth. Mr. Alemàn explained that the IAP plays an essential part in a government increasing the use of the IP system by their own citizens.

During the conversation, the focus was on how applicants can improve their chances for being accepted into the program. Mr. Luis Antonio Silva, IAP Focal Point for Colombia stressed the importance of communicating the commercial potential of the invention. Securing a patent, he explained, helps support your technology reaching the market and improving the lives of people. The conversation then turned to Mr. Cesar Ruiz Gómez, Executive Director of TECNNOVA, to offer his insights. TECNNOVA is an NGO that connects researchers from University with the business world. He told participants, that inventors should focus on three fundamental aspects: “identifying the problem you are solving, having a clear value-added proposal and developing a business model.”

And when a patent supports the business model, IAP volunteers offered some tips to improve the strategic value of the asset. Ms. Ana Maria Castro, Partner, Lloreda & Camacho, suggested staying mindful why we want to patent to ensure its claims accomplish that goal. More specifically, knowing the potential markets for your invention and how it will be implemented can be critical to shaping a high impact asset. Ms. Monica Bonnet, Associate, Posse Herrera Ruiz, reminded inventors to play close attention to the timelines in the patent application process. If an invention is disclosed to someone else, through testing or a transaction, you need to act quickly to protect it. The time for filing an application is not the only deadline an inventor faces, she added. Missing other deadlines could also result in loss of right before and during patent grant procedure. Having a guide in the process, like the support offer through the Inventor Assistance Program, can help avoid costly mistakes in the process.

Those messages resonated with the inventor audience. One asked, Can I patent the edible dishes I’m commercializing?” Ms. Marcela Ramirez, Director of New Creations, SIC, explained whether securing a patent and using it to drive value for your business depends on your context. She said if the recipe could be replicated by a third party, a can give you a market advantage, if it meets patentability criteria.

Whether your innovation will be the main course or the platter it gets served on, as participants in the conversation learned, the Inventor Assistance Program can help. Learn more about how you can apply for the program or get involved as a volunteer by visiting the program’s website.