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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   10 May 2013  

Industry players see better future promoting local invention, IP

INDUSTRY players in Brunei praised Brunei's recent milestone in promoting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection, citing a better a future for local businesses and inventors in a country that is looking to diversify its economy.

Brunei was struck off the USTR (United States Trade Representative) Special 301 Watch List effective May 1 this year when the annual Report was released, in recognition of Brunei's substantive efforts in implementing legislation on IPR, enforcing laws and educating the public on the importance of protecting original work.

Speaking to The Brunei Times yesterday, Hiro Tien of local internet startup Socialbuzz said the move signified Brunei's commitment towards developing a better environment to foster innovation among local businesses and inventors.

"It encourages us information and communications technology (ICT) startups to continue innovating, knowing that we are in safe hands, in terms of IPR, given the setup of (the) Patent Registry Office and mentorship of the national incubation centre, the iCentre," Hiro said.

The iCentre incubatee who developed online group-buying website Socialdeal said that ICT projects are highly evaluated in terms of IPR by stakeholders.

"Therefore, we feel the recent removal of the country from the watchlist presents us good opportunity as well as credibility when pitching to investors or developing strategic partnerships with potential foreign ventures," he said.

Farah Ahmadnawi, corporate communications officer from the iCentre, said the iCentre welcomed the recent announcement of Brunei's removal from the watchlist as it would benefit its startup incubatees, which are currently developing innovative Made-in-Brunei products.

"We feel it's definitely good for us, our incubatees worked tirelessly to produce their products and applications. At least, their hardwork is protected and rewarded, in a way," said Farah.

"Plus it paves the way for our new incubatees, who will be selling and distributing their products in Brunei safely," she added.

Similarly, Hj Azaman Hj Suleiman, chairperson of Google Developer Group (GDG) Brunei said that the news of Brunei's removal is an encouragement for local ICT developers of a better future ahead, and that it would ensure further innovation and technological development.

"This will provide an environment that are conducive for developers in general and open up more opportunities for GDG Brunei developers in ensuring their work are protected locally and internationally," Azaman said.

"At the same time, the international recognition opens up other new opportunities," he added.

Meanwhile, startup entrepreneur, Ak Mohd Khairi Pg Hj Metussin, said that although the removal was a milestone for Brunei, there is still more work to be done for the Sultanate to fully adopt IP protection, and that awareness play a crucial role.

"In my view, it matters less if Brunei is now no longer on the watchlist, if the populace in the nation have little awareness of the importance of creating their own IP and protecting them," said the founder of PHMD Publishing, a startup at the iCentre.

He stressed that it would take some time before the public could fully understand the whole IP process and it would require the right level of mindset and integrity in order for it to be practiced accordingly.

"Innovation plays a part in developments of any countries. I really hope to see more originality when in comes to innovation especially if it's coming from within the nation," he added.

Zul Abdul Rahman, marketing executive at a personal computer (PC) retail firm Concepts Computers, said that Brunei's removal from the watchlist will benefit consumers as it would give them better access to more products and content.

"Consumers in Brunei will have access to a larger selection of movies, music, television programmes and books, and also the method of accessing these would increase; through Google Music/Movies/Books, Pandora streaming services, Netflix streaming services and so on and so forth," Zul said.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Azizah Ali applauded Concepts Computer for promoting genuine products for consumers and standing behind Microsoft in its fight against piracy.

Concepts Computers is one of the biggest local PC retailers that is actively promoting genuine products for its customers, particularly products from Microsoft.

Zul also said that the move would also open up new opportunities for ICT retailers, such as direct access to developers such as Adobe Systems, Oracle, and Symantec, among others.

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