Creating intellectual property champions among the youth

AS NOVEMBER is National Children’s Month, this makes for a great opportunity to highlight the role we play in enabling our younger people to be the creators, innovators or leaders they ought to be.

At the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), our great desire to train up the youth is embodied in our enhancement last year of our long-time Young Intellectual Property Advocates (YIPA) Program. The program is anchored on the philosophy that early education on the relevance of Intellectual Property (IP) will build a sustainable future where wide respect for IP rights drives innovation and creativity.

Through YIPA, IPOPHL partners with schools to mobilize clubs for science– and arts-inclined students as young as 7th graders, and encourages them to participate and become partners of IPOPHL in our IP awareness campaign. Members go through a series of IP learning workshops and other essential training — with prospects of deploying members abroad when an international training opportunity arises — to be well prepared in promoting our cause in respecting the IP rights of others and in protecting their own.

To date, we have numerous YIPA student-members with pending applications at IPOPHL for a patent, utility model, and industrial design. We already have one member who has a patent and we will be featuring him soon to serve as an inspiration to young inventors.

With the enhanced YIPA, which comes with the creation of a 2020-2025 roadmap, we aim to intensify the promotion of IP among the youth with the end-goal of receiving more IP filings from member-schools.

A major breakthrough that puts us closer to this goal is our inked memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Science High School System (PSHS) last September, connecting IPOPHL to the top 16 science public high schools in the country.

Under the partnership, IPOPHL is tasked to provide assistance for PSHS’ IP awareness campaigns; conduct IP learning workshops for select PSHS students, faculty, and researchers who are tasked to cascade what they learn to members of the PSHS community; and hold capacity-building workshops on patent searching, claims drafting, and disclosure writing and other areas that may assist the PSHS community in the protection of their IPs. In addition, PSHS campuses, beginning academic year 2021-2022, will include IP modules in relevant subjects and other modes of learning, and conduct activities that will promote awareness.

This is a major breakthrough for IP education as we are talking about the crème de la crème of young, budding innovators.

Moreover, as it is in secondary education that students begin to do research, YIPA as a whole is essential in that it helps them learn the processes of applying for protection for their own IP assets. Members are also acquainted with the standards for patentability — novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability — for them to ensure that their research pursuits lead to the development of technologies truly relevant to their societies, lest they repeat already existing innovation, in which case all their hard work would be for naught and just be another science project.

Through the innovation-enabling environment our YIPA creates, IPOPHL also helps unlock students’ entrepreneurial skills as we educate them on the many ways they can monetize their innovations and artistic creations once protected.

By 2021, IPOPHL hopes to launch the National Young IP Advocates Organization which will bring the YIPA program further on a national scale, and add to its current network of 77 partner-schools.

By honing the youth today through IP education, we are confident that we are equipping them in a way that they can contribute optimally in the future to the country’s innovation and creativity landscapes.


Rowel S. Barba has more than 20 years of experience in business and law circles. He has been Vice-President and Head of the Corporate Legal and HR Divisions of the RFM Corp., and has held several positions at the JAKA Group of companies, including Vice-President and Chief Legal Counsel. Prior to his appointment as Director General of IPOPHL, Mr. Barba was Undersecretary at the Department of Trade and Industry.

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