Volga | Finance, business | Technology & innovation

With IP unprotected, business plans can all go amiss

14 Nov '19
Earlier this week Kazan, the capital city of the Russian region of Tatarstan in the mid-Volga area, brought together an army of intellectual property aficionados from several Russian regions to discuss problems that arise in the protection of IP originating in university labs, spin-offs, high tech companies, and young start-up garages. The Tatarstan government pooled efforts with Kazans IT-Park to host an international forum called Intellectual Property and the Economy of Russias Regions.


Forum, Day 1

Unlike many government-sponsored events that typically wind down to a stream of officialese, it was business approach and pragmatism that ruled the Kazan forum. People were eager to highlight problems and jointly diagnose IP protection dysfunctions that needed treatment.

Tatarstan Deputy Prime Minister Roman Shaikhutdinov underscored the importance of fostering IP culture and developing respect for IP; no such improvements are possible without real interaction between academia and industry, he said. Both Mr. Shaikhutdinov and his colleague in the Tatarstan Cabinet, regional Minister of Economics Farid Abdulganiev, emphasized hurdles that compromise the governments verbal intent to actually help innovators.

A spokesperson for the federal Ministry of Economic Development read to the Forum guests Minister Maksim Oreshkins written address that warned against a neglectful stance many technology developers tend to take towards IP protection measures. Its both dangerous and irrational, Mr. Oreshkin noted, as IP is an asset that must earn the developer money.

The plenary session was followed by vivacious one-on-ones and group meetings with experts in venture capital, start-up buildup, angel investing and, of course, patenting as the key to shielding intellectual products against thievery. Marchmont founder Kendrick White led a big group of young thinkers and entrepreneurial greenhorns who came to learn from the clued-up and share their concerns. Kendrick introduced them to his extensive experience in VC investing, elaborated as an angel investor on the dos and donts start-up companies have to remember while testing the business waters, and talked in depth about the gist of the Bayh-Dole Act, an innovator-friendly U.S. law passed as far back as 1980 to facilitate the transfer of IP rights to the developers of new technologies at universities. Sane people understand that one simply cant reproduce a purely American law on the untilled Russian soil without causing potentially damaging conflicts of interest among stakeholders. That said, Russia would do good considering a thorough domestic adaptation of the legislation, because in the U.S., the law has proven wholesome enough to fire up university-based entrepreneurship and bring about a plethora of new spin-offs that have for decades now been commercializing their intellectual products into the real economy.


Kendrick White at group discussions

Those willing to understand the advantages and pitfalls of national and international IP patenting spent a fruitful two days with Nadya Reingand, the founder and president of an American company called Patent Hatchery, LLC. A talented Russian physicist who had shown much promise in optics, she emigrated in the early 2000s to the U.S. with her infirm daughter and a strong desire to re-invent her life in a new social environment. And re-invent she did; Ms. Reingand enriched her skills with a profound knowledge of U.S. and international patenting. Nadya has acumen for patenting problems both as an American patent attorney with an incredible number of patenting success stories from within or outside of the U.S. in her portfolio, and as a Russian scientist who knows how fatiguing it may be to move from one stage to another in patenting. Thats why her experience is invaluable for young Russian entrepreneurs; and thats why she was a magnet for a lot of Forum guests in Kazan who came to shower her with questions.


Nadya Reingand

I always try to turn my lectures into discussions, tailoring them to what interests listeners most. I think I didnt do a bad job this time at the Forum; I saw people on fire for what we were discussing, and each shared what had tormented him, and I was glad I could help. All this triggers an active exchange of ideas, which inspires me, and I feel new ideas bud in my head. I would also commend a high level of scientific preparedness the speakers at discussions showed. The Forum was meant to become a venue for regions to reach out to one another, and that was successfully achieved. I flew for more than 15 hours to get here, and the event was worth it, Nadya said in an exchange with Marchmont News.

The Patent Hatchery president also noted that while a decade ago fingers on one hand were more than enough to count cases of patenting Russian inventions in the U.S., in 2018 there were 384 such cases. However, all those applications came from big Russian companiesand none from a university, unfortunately. This appears to give the management of Russian universities food for thought. Ms. Reingand rightly affirmed that a companyincluding a university spin-offthat has no patents for its IP runs the risk of seeing its business plans all go amiss because by pushing on this negligent company risks litigation with someone who has anticipated the emergence of a possible competitor and patented his product on time.
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