Innovation Nation: Protecting your cashcow

It’s a sunny Thursday afternoon and we are at the New Hunt’s House G8 with some distinguished guests working in different roles surrounding patenting. Dr. Craig Titmus is a Chartered Patent Attorney who helps the patenting applicants file their patents. Dr. Miraz Rahman, who is a leading scientists in drug discovery at King’s, has generated several patented products. Dr. Surbhi Gupta and Dr. Salma Ishaq both work at King’s Commercial and Industrialization team. They help applicants including PhD students and staff to evaluate their products and the complicated patent application process.

Various topics surrounding Intellectual Property and patenting were discussed including:

  • Path towards becoming a patent attorney: the interviews, training, examinations and career paths.
  • The process of filing patents: how long and how much money it takes, how to protect your work before filing the application and the long term benefits of having a patent.

We got to know that a patent is a form of intellectual property, among others like trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. It is an invention, a product or process that is novel, useful (have commercial interests), and non-obvious (distinct from existing product or process).

The patenting rights are protected by law, which differs in different countries, and mainly prevents others from commercially making, using, selling, importing, or distributing a patented invention without permission. Since the rights are all based on commercial interests, it is a means for the patentee to generate money from their protected product. So a patent is only worth applying for when there are companies who show interest in the product.

The special requirements of a patent also makes it an expensive and lengthy process. It takes 4-7 years to complete (there are exceptions, shortest being 2 years) and application costs about £4000- 5000 (International patents). But universities offer help in terms of application and money, which makes it easier for students and staff to protect their inventions, in the end they also get a good share of the income, 90% of the first £10,000 , 75% from £10, 000 -50, 000  and so on.

It sounds like a daunting task but there are PhD students and PIs in King’s who have got there, with the help of King’s commercialization team. A brilliant epitome of the success is Dr. Miraz Rahman, a lead scientist in drug discovery, who has filed several patents for his new drugs.

It has been a long journey as he had faced not only the common academia-based difficulties (lab space, research funding etc.) but also the severe delays in publishing his work till a patent had been granted (due to the non-disclosure rule).

Despite all these struggles, he kept himself motivated by seeing the future- when patients around the world receive and benefit from the medicine that he invented. Currently, his drugs are either going on to clinical trials or are being developed by a company. We, at KCLIF, have good hopes for him and wish him the very best for the future.

We got a view of the patenting process on the other side of the fence, when Dr. Surbhi Gupta and Dr. Salma Ishaq (King’s Commercial and Industrialization team) shared some really good cases with us about the patenting journey of our peers at King’s. Dr. Craig Titmus provided us a very thorough account about the regulations and things we should notice when filing a patenting application. Together they all gave us a broader insight of how and when to file for patents. In addition to the patenting process, they also shared details of their journeys from science towards careers in the field of Intellectual Property and patenting.

With all these people working in different roles, our audience got a thorough overview of the process and a great chance to ask questions. It turned out to be an interactive discussion, with questions being asked from the audience which led to a real understanding of patenting. Last but not the least, the real life cases presented by the speakers opened our eyes about how innovation can change the game.