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African inventors urged to prioritise patenting ideas


Harare, (New Ziana) –African inventors should ensure their ideas are protected by having them patented first before seeking publicity, promoters and funding, an expert has said.

A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period in exchange for publishing an enabling disclosure of the invention.

In an interview with New Ziana on Monday, Zimbabwe Association of Inventors president Ignatius Nyongo said inventors can provisionally protect their ideas, which is cheap.

“A provisional patent protects you for a year during which time you should have complete specification because once you rush, the idea is snapped up by someone,” he said.

“The ZAI assists inventors in drafting patents or they can go to lawyers. Here we have also been trained by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to do patent drafting. So, we now have the capability to draft professional patents. Those who need assistance can come to the association not necessarily to join the association, but for the services we provide. ZAI provides services in patent drafting, technology licensing, transfer, negotiations, assisting with research and development, and mobilization of funding.”

The association was established in 2001 to assist in initialising the development of inventions in the country and the African continent.

It was instrumental in forming the African Inventors Co-operation Organisation (AICO), which has 31 member states across Southern, Western, Eastern and Northern Africa.

Nyongo said the greatest challenge inventors face throughout the continent is lack of financial, moral and political support.

He said inventors in Africa are at the same level in terms of development and challenges faced, but expressed appreciation for the Zimbabwe government for supporting and awareness campaigns towards inventions, which make it better than other national governments on the continent.

“Most of the inventors come from underprivileged communities and are not gainfully employed. They look forward to their inventions helping them break through and transform their livelihoods,” he said.

“If inventions are fully supported and reach the market, they actually transform the societal economic well-being. An example is of countries like South Korea, and China. Their economies have boomed because they took up science and technology, particularly technological innovation, as a strategy of economic and social development.”

Nyongo said the poor economic background of most inventors causes them to quickly go to the newspapers, radio and television with unprotected ideas to seek financial assistance, creating problems for themselves because most end up losing their ideas to other people.

He said rushing to publicise exposes the inventors but pointed out that the situation was improving in Zimbabwe as they can protect their ideas with the Zimbabwe International Patent Office.

Nyongo said for most inventors, ideas are primarily for solving existing technical challenges, and making money is secondary.

New Ziana

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