| Azlan Othman |
DESPITE Brunei Darussalam’s improved showing in the United States (US) Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre’s (GIPC) International Intellectual Property (IP) Index for this year, the report noted that there were still substantial challenges inundating the country’s patenting, copyrights and IP enforcement environment.
For the second year in a row, the Sultanate maintained an upward trajectory in the ranking. In the latest edition of the International IP Index, Brunei’s rank rose to 34 out of 50 economies, an improvement of one place on its 35th position in 2018. The report was published last week.
Brunei’s overall score in the seventh edition of the Index increased substantially to 17.31 (out of a maximum score of 45) against 15.01 (out of 40) in the report’s sixth edition last year.
The report said this reflects a relatively strong performance on the new indicators added to the Index, and a score increase on the new patent prosecution highway (PPH) agreement indicator.
Elaborating more on membership in Patent Prosecution Highways (PPHs), the report added that although Brunei is not a member of either the Global PPH or the IP5 PPH, the Brunei IP Office (BruIPO) and Japan Patent Office (JPO) have in place a patent prosecution highway under the JPO’s PPH+ programme.
This positive feature of Brunei’s national IP environment marks another step in the development of BruIPO’s institutional and technical capacity. As a result, the country’s score on this indicator increased by 0.5.
The latest report analysed the IP climate in 50 world economies based on 45 indicators critical to an innovation-led economy.
Brunei’s key strengths in 2017, for the purpose of retrospective comparison, were accession to WIPO Internet Treaties; major IP reforms in the past few years, including establishment of an IP office (BruIPO); removal from the Special 301 Report; a new patent prosecution highway (PPH) agreement in place with Japan; and no fundamental administrative or regulatory barriers in place to execute licensing agreements.
Its key weaknesses meanwhile were the lacking of IP rights in the life sciences; regulatory data protection not available; compulsory licence framework overly broad; limited framework for addressing online piracy and circumvention devices; high software piracy rates – 64 per cent in the latest estimates; limited incentives in place for the creation and use of IP assets for SMEs.
The 2017 report ranks economies based on 40 unique indicators that benchmark activity critical to innovation development surrounding patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets protection.
“The results of this year’s Index illustrate a growing global commitment to IP-driven creativity and innovation,” GIPC President and CEO David Hirschmann said. “The majority of countries took steps to strengthen their IP systems and foster an environment that encourages and incentivises creators to bring their ideas to market.
“While a clear pack of leaders in IP protection top the rankings, the leadership gap has narrowed in a new global race to the top. There is still work to be done, and we hope governments will use this Index as a blueprint to further improve their IP ecosystems and grow competitive, knowledge-based economies. When countries invest in strong IP systems, we all benefit.”
The US, United Kingdom and European Union economies remain on top of the global IP rankings, this despite the US lead being narrowed due to systemic challenges to the US patent system. Japan and Singapore also make an appearance in the Index’s top 10.