Ireland plans major overhaul of intellectual property regime

1 Jun 2010

Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe TD has pledged a massive overhaul of the intellectual property regime in Ireland as part of Innovation Taskforce plans to make it easier for entrepreneurs to build businesses and create smart jobs.

Ireland’s intellectual property regime is to be overhauled under plans to be revealed today at the first meeting of a group set up to drive the recommendations of the Innovation Taskforce, according to O’Keeffe.

O’Keeffe wants to make it easier for entrepreneurs to turn creative ideas into ‘smart’ jobs by ironing out the kinks in the intellectual property process.

O’Keeffe said he wanted to “maximise opportunities for commercialisation of Government-backed intellectual property and give entrepreneurs here a competitive edge”.

He has appointed an expert group of technology transfer practitioners and cross-sector industry representatives to implement the intellectual property-related recommendations of the Innovation Taskforce report.

Dr Jim Mountjoy, founder of Euristix and a board member of Science Foundation Ireland, will chair the group.

A separate report by Forfás commissioned by the department and completed in May showed there was scope to develop better commercial opportunities from intellectual property.

“Strong Government investment in research and development means that we now have a vibrant intellectual property sector – but my concern is that we do not have a system that is fast enough in allowing these ideas be turned into commercialised products and, ultimately, jobs,” O’Keeffe said.

“I want to smooth the process for industry and enterprise in accessing intellectual property and turning it into products and services for the global marketplace.

“I want to develop more user-friendly structures for industry to commercialise intellectual property.”

Removing red tape

“I do not want bureaucratic kinks holding up the creation of ‘smart’ jobs,” continued O’Keeffe.

“The focus must be on ensuring that industry gets predictable, consistent and speedy treatment when engaging with research institutions to commercialise intellectual property.

“In doing so, we can create ‘smart’ and sustainable jobs and give Ireland a competitive advantage over other countries in developing our innovation capacity.

“I have asked the expert group on intellectual property to ensure that all enterprises, from small businesses to multinationals, get better access to Government-supported intellectual property and then be able to use it to create jobs and drive our economic recovery,” said O’Keeffe.

Examples of intellectual property recently developed into marketable products include:

·        BlueBox Sensors, a spin-out company from NUI Maynooth, has produced implantable brain sensors that can record, in real time, changes in brain chemistry. It is useful in the effort to develop drugs to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia.

·        The Audio Research Group in DIT, which has pioneered a range of unique audio signal processing technologies that allow people to sing karaoke alongside original sound tracks. The product was licensed into the popular Sony PlayStation 3 Sing Star Karaoke game.

The group will begin to implement change as its work progresses.

It is expected that a considerable amount of improvements will be in place by the end of the year.

The members of the intellectual property IP Implementation Group are: Dr Jim Mountjoy (chairman), founder of Euristix/board member, Science Foundation Ireland, IBEC Damien Callaghan, member of Innovation Taskforce, investment director, Intel Capital John Scanlan, director, Technology Transfer Office, NUI Maynooth, Richard Stokes, CEO, Invent (Technology Transfer Office, DCU), Brendan Cremen, director, Technology Transfer Office, UCC Prof Terry Smith, vice-president for research, NUI Galway, Dr Jeanne Bolger, vice-president scientific licensing/alliance manager, Jansen Barry Kennedy, research program manager, Intel, Dr Daniel O’Mahony, partner, Kernel Capital Partners and partner, Seroba Kernel Life Sciences, Dr Ena Prosser, partner, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Paul Kavanagh, director, Kinometrics Tara MacMahon, Intellectual Property lawyer, member of Innovation Taskforce.

Representatives from relevant agencies and other Government departments will attend meetings when appropriate.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years