Trinidad & Tobago, W.I.- Former minister in the previous government administration Junia Regrello called a press conference today, in response to allegations made by Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General Anand Ramlogan last Friday, and notification that the Government proposes taking legal action against G-pan inventor Professor Brian Copeland and three associates for profiting from sales of the G-pan. According to the Patent application publication on file, the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago government is listed as the assignee. Copeland is a director of the Panadigm Innovation Ltd Company (PIL) which was incorporated to facilitate the commercialization of the G-pan. Regrello resigned from the company in 2007.
The PPP government elected by the people for the people have only one thing in mind and that is to destroy, bore, intimidate and harass the people while doing nothing for the people. In their bid to destroy anything that the PNM has done they are willing to destroy the history of Trinbago, and since FEW people of Indian descent has any interest in the Pan I do not understand why the GOATISH AG has suddenly landed on the PAN.
Do pan people want to be a part of the ongoing political "COMMESS" in Trinbago that is the question that we want to ask ourselves.
WHAT IS PAN TRINBAGO ROLE IN ALL OF THIS? PAN TRINBAGO IS THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE PAN MOVEMENT THEY WERE KEPT OUT BY THE PNM GOVERNMENT IN THIS PROJECT. WHY? THEY WERE UNDERMINE BY THE PNM......
THE AG HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS TO INVESTIGATE ALLEGED CORRUPTIONS WHERE TAX PAYERS MONIES INVOLVED. WE VOTE HIM IN FOR THIS.
Prof. Copeland remains the inventor (of the G-Pan) even if the patent is "assigned" to the Government. The requisite *knowledge* to develop, produce and bring the product to *market*, obviously remains likewise with the flesh-and-blood inventor. Government's interest, as assignee and owner of the patent, is of a financial nature, and as the custodian of the nation's public policy interest in such developments.
A patent confers a state-sanctioned monopoly on the owner, here the Government. If the owner chooses not to exercise that monopoly, by engaging in development, production, and selling in the market of the product/invention for which the patent was given, then he/it may nevertheless sell or give a license to another party or parties to engage in these activities. In normal commercial practice, such a license would be granted against payment of royalties on some agreed basis.
Where Government is involved, as a public policy matter, royalties may well be waived altogether, or for some limited period of time, in the same way that Government may waive taxes as a form of incentive to infant industries or selected sectors e.g. to attract foreign private investment in oil and tourist sectors. The same may apply here. And would be warranted as a policy matter for the same sorts of reasons, knowing that Government would eventually be repaid, through taxes at minimum, if the industry becomes commercially successful, and creates significant employment.
In any case, Prof. Copeland, as the inventor, would have or should have entered into a commercial contract with Government setting out the terms under which the G-Pan would be commercialized, and he would have the necessary access to a license under the patent. Certainly, it would not have been the intent of Government, whether PNM or UNC, to sit on the invention and do nothing with it.
And if there is some alleged violation of the terms under which the patent was assigned to Government, the proper thing would have been to treat it as a business matter where collaborating partners reconsider and negotiate terms when disputes or misunderstandings arise.
The idea that there is some "great scandal" involving Prof. Copeland in effect stealing the fruits of his own invention and defrauding the Government and people of T&T, is ludicrous. There may be terms to negotiate or renegotiate, as between business partners. The new UNC Government may seek to misconstrue or reconstrue terms previously agreed with the PNM Government. But the idea of "fraud" seems absurd, since there is no disagreement between the parties as to the assignation of the patent, leaving therefore only commercial terms pertaining to the the use of the patent, to be negotiated, or renegotiated.
As to the PHI invention, Prof. Copeland claims both the invention, and the patent. Government seems, rather late in the day, to be asserting a claim to the patent based on an employer-employee relation, and/or a claim that funds provided to the G-Pan project were used also to fund the PHI project. This does not seem to me to be credible. The lack of specificity of the Government claim would suggest to me that what is being asserted is a general boiler-plate provision of an employment contract whereby the employer claims ownership of the employee's intellectual output. The employer may make no such claim as of "right". That may well be the convention under Babylon system and thinking, and certainly applies, and wrongly so, in a master-slave society. Be that as it may, most employees, whether knowingly or unknowingly, reluctantly or happily, sign away their rights to their own intellectual property (IP), because of boiler-plate provisions in standard employment contracts. Even such boiler-plate provisions end up being renegotiated when there is a particular case in view, as here with the PHI. No "scandal" attaches to such negotiation or renegotiation.
But of course, when politics enters into the equation, all bets are off! And when we have a scandal-monger for an Attorney General, we should not be surprised. This is the same AG that insinuated, in Parliament, that the former Prime Minister had stolen a grand piano, only for it to be revealed the next day that the piano was in fact exactly where it had always been, merely covered under a cloth! Such an AG may well succeed in scoring political points among a narrow constituency inclined to believe the worst of the previous Government, but he cannot be taken seriously by any reasonably impartial or observer. I will await Prof. Copeland's response, but I expect the charges to be easily deflected.
I will also look forward to a ventilation of the public policy issues that surround the matter. What fiscal incentives should attend the commercialization phase of the G-Pan and PHI inventions, and should they be at least as favorable as the fiscal incentives given to the most-favored sector(s) of the economy. This will of course boil down to a question of who will benefit, how, and how much. This Government, regrettably, sees the former Government as favoring sheep, and for its part seeks too actively to favor goats.
- Big Sid