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Title: Patent and research exemption: Challenges for research capacity and utilization in universities, research institutions and industry in Botswana
Authors: Ama, Njoku O
Fombad, Charles M
Date: 2009
Abstract: This study focuses on the patent system, which is a key tool in promoting research and innovation. The general objective of the study is to assess the challenges of patent and research exemptions on research capacity and utilization in universities, research institutions and industry in Botswana. Empirical evidence was obtained through the use of questionnaires administered to researchers in academic and research institutions, manufacturing industries and companies throughout the country, backed by two focus group discussions (one in the south of the country and the other in the north). The records of patents registered in the country before and after independence were extracted and studied. The empirical findings gathered from the questionnaires and focus group discussions were carefully analysed and a number of conclusions were drawn. First, that in spite of intellectual property legislation having been introduced as early as 1966, the level of patent awareness and possibly intellectual property awareness in the country generally is low (67%), while only 62% of researchers from academic institutions were aware. Most researchers, whether in the academia or in industry, claim some awareness about the existence of patents but on closer questioning, it becomes clear that such knowledge is usually very superficial. Hence, the existence of a legal framework dealing with patents and its attempts to provide incentives and promote research and innovations, especially through research exemptions is bound to be ineffective in the absence of patent awareness. Second, whilst it is clear that the existing legal framework recognizes and protects patents, the nature and scope for encouraging research use of patented inventions through research exemption is less clear. A wide variety of options are available for addressing the problems associated with experimenting with patented products. It is necessary that for patent legislation to be balanced, it must also contain an experimental use exemption to enhance the prospects of encouraging research and innovation with respect to patented products. Finally, it is also necessary that incentives to innovate, such as royalty sharing agreements and special achievement awards are provided to encourage inventors. At the end of the day, the critical issue seems to be the need to create an awareness of the potential benefits of patents and research exemptions in underdeveloped countries if the legal protection provided is going to have any practical effects on researchers.
Project Number: 104529
Project Title: Accessing Patented Knowledge for Innovation
Access: IDRC Only
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