NOTAP Trains Intellectual Property And Technology Transfer Office (IPTTO) Personnel Of The University Of Benin, Held At The University Of Benin

The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) through its Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTO) programme has established 38 IPTTOs in Tertiary institutions and research institutions across Nigeria.

Usually, during the commissioning of these IPPTOs, training of the IPTTO personnel forms part of the commissioning programme. These trainings are to enable the IPTTOs start functioning. Though the purpose is to enable the IPTTOs commence work, the effectiveness of the IPTTO personnel is limited. This may be due to the following reasons:

- Inadequate staffing of the offices,
- The appointment of the IPTTO personnel is without regard to their background in relation to the functions of the office.

The above situations make it necessary for the IPTTO personnel to undergo further training to acquire the level of proficiency needed to perform effectively.

Due to the political avarice in the institutions, the IPTTO Coordinators are changed frequently, usually with the emergence of a new Vice Chancellor/ Chief Executive. The new coordinators, in most cases, have low level of awareness of Intellectual Property (IP). The new coordinators therefore need training in IP issues to function effectively.

The two scenarios above combined to necessitate further training for the IPTTOs.

This was the situation with the IPTTO at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) which was established in 2007 and commissioned in 2012.

The training request was made via the letter of 5th May, 2015 by the newly appointed coordinator, Professor S. C. Chiemeke. There was some delay due to internal logistics arrangements. Eventually, the training took place from 13th – 16th July, 2015.

The team from NOTAP comprising of Engr. J.U.L Nwosa (Director and team leader), Mr. S. O. Eneanya (Deputy Director), Mr. Smart Tuedor - (Chief Technology Officer – Tertiary Institutions), Mr. E. D. Archbong – (Chief Technology Officer – Intellectual Property) and Mr. Kenny Shalom – ( Chief Clerical Officer) paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor, Professor F. F. O. Orumwense at about 9.00a.m.

Due to changes in the programme, the courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor was made on the 14th of July, 2015 – the second day of the training. Coincidentally, the meeting of the Board of the University of Benin was scheduled to hold the same day. Consequently, the Vice Chancellor was not available to receive the team from NOTAP in person. However, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration, Professor Lawrence Ezemonye was on hand to represent the Vice Chancellor. The university of Benin team led by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration was made up of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academy, Professor –Aboidun Falodun; the Deputy Vice Chancellor Ekenwa Campus, Professor Aduwa Ogiegbean; the Librarian, Dr. (Mrs) Evelyn Idiodi; the registrar, Mrs. O.A. Oshodin; the Bursar, Dr Baba Bala in addition to the IPTTO Coordinator, Professor Chiemeke and all the IPTTO staff.

After the exchange of pleasantries, Professor Chiemeke informed the gathering of the reason for the visit. The representative of the Vice Chancellor welcomed the team from NOTAP. He apologised for the inability of the Vice Chancellor to receive the team personally. Afterwards, he introduced his team and informed the NOTAP team of the passion the University of Benin has for issues relating to IP. This is borne out of the fact that the Vice Chancellor, until his appointment, was the Director of the IPTTO. Furthermore, he told the gathering of the university’s plan in respect of IP and the IPTTO. The leader of the team from NOTAP, Engr. Nwosa after introducing his team accepted the apologies of the representative of the Vice Chancellor, and also informed him the reason the Ag. Director General of NOTAP was not present at the University of Benin as earlier scheduled. He promised the host of the Ag. Director General’s visit to the University as soon as possible. Engr. Nwosa emphasized the importance of the IPTTO to the University and urged the University management to give the IPTTO every support it needed.

At the end of the speeches, Mrs. Oshodin, the Registrar of the University gave the vote of thanks to signal the end of the courtesy visit. The team from NOTAP was then led to the venue of the opening ceremony.

The workshop was carried out over a period of 3 days. Due to logistics constraints, the opening ceremony took place on the 2nd day of the programme. The 1st and 3rd days were meant specifically for the IPTTO personnel while the opening ceremony, which included the presentation of 3 papers, was open to all members of the University community for the purpose of creating awareness on Intellectual Property issues to a wider audience.

Though the 1st and 3rd days were supposedly targeted at the IPTTO personnel, however, many non IPTTO personnel also attended particularly on the 3rd day due to the high level of interest and enthusiasm created during the opening ceremony.

The papers presented on the 1st day were:-
(i) Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office and its Management – Smart Tuedor
(ii) Patent Information and their Uses – Smart Tuedor
(iii) Document Procedure for Patent Application – Kenny Shalom Ayoade
(iv) Patent Databases and Techniques in Patent Search – Kenny Shalom Ayoade

The papers presented on the 2nd day at the opening ceremony were:-
(i) Overview of Intellectual Properties – Engr. J.U.L. Nwosa
(ii) Intellectual Property and Intellectual Property Rights Management - Engr. J.U.L. Nwosa
(iii) Patent Information and their Uses – Smart Tuedor

The Coordinator of the UNIBEN IPTTO, Prof. S.C. Chiemeke considered the 2nd paper presented on the 1st day to be very important to the research activities of those engaged in research and therefore requested that it should be presented again to a wider audience at the opening ceremony comprising mostly of lecturers and researchers.

The 3rd day witnessed an overwhelming attendance than anticipated. The 3rd day was a practical hands-on session and was intended for only IPTTO personnel who are expected to help researchers draft patent claims and eventually help the university commercialise any viable R&D results in addition to other functions of the IPTTO. However, the attendance cut across the whole spectrum of the university community. The papers presented on the 3rd day were:-

(i) Commercialization of R&D results, Inventions and Innovations from Universities and Research Institutions – S. O. Eneanya
(ii) Drafting of Patent Specifications: Descriptions and Claims – E.D. Archibong
(iii) Procedures in Filing, PCT Patent Application, Patent Maintenance, Administration and Penalties and Nigerian Patent Law and Its Implication on Global Patent System - E.D. Archibong

General Comments and Observations:
1. The legal regimes for IPR’s protection are different and IPR’s rights management from the government level is handled by different MDA’s. There is a need to harmonize these regimes to give room for proper synergy and administration of IPR from the governing end as this would lead to the required development of IPR’s for national economic advancement.

2. Even though the current practice is the non-substantive examination of the Nigerian patent application, there is need to amend the PDA to include a pre-grant examination mechanism. This will take care of public interest, promote quality control and advance the development of local content especially in the area of pharmaceutical inventions

3. NOTAP should collaborate with NUC to incorporate patency in the criteria for promotion in Nigerian University. NOTAP should work with the relevant stakeholders towards incorporating issues about Intellectual Property rights in our higher institutions’ curriculum either at entry or leaving point.

The 3 days training programme on IP at the University of Benin was one of the most attended training programme in any university campus in Nigeria. The attached list of participants for each day confirms this assertion.

The training generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm and gives hope that eventually the Nigerian knowledge worker is becoming aware of intellectual property issues and the benefits accruable there from.

The success of the programme may be partly due to the fact that it was specific to and concentrated at the University of Benin. There have been similar requests for training of specific persons by other institutions in the past. For some reasons, these requests were not granted. The success of this training at UNIBEN should serve as an impetus to propel NOTAP to honour such requests in the future. To this end, the various modules and papers presented at the training in University of Benin should be standardized and packaged for future use.