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Kuwait University Speeds Up Patent Process in Step to Improve Research Support

Kuwait University recently activated a fast track service for examining patent applications that could cut down the time needed to register a patent from three years to one.

Academics welcomed this new service, though one faculty leader said the university needed to do more to support research.

The activation of the fast-track service follows a recent cooperation agreement between the university and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The university said that the new procedure aimed to facilitate the patent application process for researchers, as part of its efforts to encourage more scientific research.

The move could also improve the university’s standing in global rankings, which it has been trying to enhance after a notable decline in recent years.

In the QS World University Rankings, Kuwait University, the country’s only public institution, was ranked in the 1001-1200 band for two successive years, after previously ranking in the top 1,000.

Scientific Research Marketing

The fast-track patent service will enhance university researchers’ ability to protect their intellectual property and market their inventions, said Haneen Ghabra, assistant vice president for external research collaboration and consultations at Kuwait University.

“It can also help improve the university’s international rankings,” she told Al-Fanar Media by telephone. “Taking three years to register a patent may reduce the value of research, due to such a long period, especially with the rapid developments in scientific research.”

Kuwait University established an Office of Patents and Intellection Property in 2005 to help researchers take the necessary measures to protect their inventions and exploit them commercially. Marketing researchers’ inventions can contribute to raising the university’s societal engagement and serve Kuwait in general, Ghabra said.

Training for Researchers

Researchers who wish to apply for a patent through the USPTO’s fast-track patent examination programme need to fulfill several conditions, Ghabra said. These include paying application fees and filing a patent application in Kuwait first.

The fast-track patent service will enhance university researchers’ ability to protect their intellectual property and market their inventions, and could also give the university a boost in international rankings.

The university plans to organise training sessions for researchers on how to apply for patents, she said.

She noted that university researchers are producing knowledge in many fields, including innovations in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases, discoveries to advance the economy, as well as social sciences research.

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The Kuwaiti academic says that the university aims to develop research in rare and specialised fields to help the state in all fields, support specialised authorities in economic projects, and provide solutions to various problems in science, economics, and politics.

One Researcher’s Experience

Ammar Bahman, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the university’s College of Engineering and Petroleum, said shortening the patent examination time would benefit his work.

“The research process is cumulative, and depends on previous research in the same field,” he said. “The faster the publication and registration, the faster the development of the scientific research, and the higher its efficiency.”

As a representative of Kuwait University, Bahman filed a patent application in June with the USPTO for a device capable of detecting the physical state of nanoparticles. He said that the device had important uses in the development of thermal systems for generating power and in water desalination systems.

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In an email statement, Bahman said he had not encountered any obstacles in the process of registering a patent abroad, yet he pointed out that the speed of the process depended on financial support.

Bahman hopes to see greater support for patent procedures as well as research projects, in addition to supporting professors’ independence and encouraging them to devote themselves to research.

A Welcome with a Caveat

Ibrahim Al-Hamoud, former head of the Association of Faculty Members at Kuwait University, welcomes efforts to speed up patent registration. “However, there are still other existing problems facing scientific research at the university,” he said. “They are related to the poor university budget allocated by the government, specifically concerning scientific research, which requires large sums of money.”

Al-Hamoud, a professor at Kuwait University’s Faculty of Law, added that the limited financial support for the university’s research sector was reflected in some faculty members’ inability to take part in international conferences, and a decrease in the ratio of faculty members to students, whose numbers have been doubled in recent years, he said.

“The moves to advance scientific research should include more measures, such as increasing financial allocations, hiring more faculty members, and supporting professors in allocating time to focus on research,” he said.

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