MUT joins the world as it celebrates World Intellectual Property Day

MUT academics and researchers and presenters at the meeting. Dr Mandla Hlongwane is first, left

The Research directorate gathered about 50 academics and researchers at Durban’s Premier Hotel on 26 April 2024, to listen to presentations by other Intellectual Property (IP) specialists. This was in celebration of World Intellectual Property Day – 26 April.  The World IP Day celebration was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2000 to raise awareness of how patents, copyrights, trademarks, and design, impact life. The day was also established to celebrate creativity, and the contribution made by creators and innovators to the development of economies and societies across the globe.

Dr Mandla Hlongwane, Deputy Director in the directorate, and IP specialist, said IP provides incentives and protections for researchers and inventors. “When researchers make discoveries or create innovative technologies and solutions, they can protect their work with IP rights like patents, copyrights, or trademarks through the Office of Technology Transfer. These protections allow the IP owners to control the use and commercialisation of their discoveries, which can encourage investment in research and development, generating a third stream of income for the university.  IP helps researchers benefit from their work, fostering innovation and progress in various fields,” Dr Hlongwane said.

Dr Hlongwane defined IP as the intangible assets resulting from the creation of the human intellect. He said that IP could be broadly categorized into several domains such as Patent, Copyright, Trademark, Trade Secrets, Industrial Designs, and Plant Breeder’s rights. Dr Hlongwane defined a few of these important terms. Dr Hlongwane indicated that patents protect inventions or discoveries, like new machines, processes, or chemical compositions. “They grant the inventor an exclusive right to make, use, and sell their invention for a limited period, usually 20 years,” he said. Dr Hlongwane said Copyright protects the original works of authorship, such as books, music, films, and computer software. “They give creators exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their work. Trademarks protect symbols, names, slogans, or designs that distinguish goods or services from others in the marketplace,” said Dr Hlongwane.

Dr Hlongwane said that in South Africa, IP is governed by various laws and regulations, some of which are the Patent Act of 1978; the Trademarks Act of 1993; the Design Act of 1993; the Copyright Act of 1978; and the Registration of Cinematography Films of 1977.

Vishen Pillay from Adams and Adams Law Firm made a presentation on “Commercialisation Strategies and Pitfalls: Bringing Engineering Technologies to the Market”; Pieter Venter’s presentation was on “Introduction to Intellectual Property Act”. Venter was from Hahn and Hahn.  Lindiwe Mashimbye, National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) Director, made a presentation on “The Role of NIPMO, review of the IPR Act and its regulations”.  Nonkululeko Shongwe and Nelisa Kante from Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) made a presentation on “Technology Innovation Agency Seed Fund Programme – Enabling Innovation from early stage”.

Dr Hlongwane said the speakers “highlighted the vital role that IP property plays in shaping our modern world”.