Leveraging Patent Information to Improve ICT Innovations in Tanzania

Leveraging Patent Information to Improve ICT Innovations in Tanzania

Rahma Bashary (Institute of Finance Management, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) and Dennis M. Lupiana (Institute of Finance Management, Tanzania)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTRAME.2017010104
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Abstract

Patent information is an essential ingredient for fostering innovations. Although most of developed countries have been using patent information as a source of technological information to assist R&D companies and organizations, Tanzania is lagging behind. Recognizing the critical role of patent information in nurturing innovations, Tanzania has recently engaged in conducting awareness training on patent information to researchers and innovators. Despite the effort, ICT Innovators in Tanzania are not keen in using patent information. The authors' preliminary study indicated that 47% of respondents had knowledge of patent databases and 61% of them believe that the information can improve their innovative ideas. In contrary, 77% of the respondents had never access the databases. These revelations led us to conduct a study to determine factors that hinder ICT Innovators in Tanzania from using patent information to improve their innovative ideas. The study was conducted at BUNI Innovation Hub and DTBi Incubator in Dar es Salaam where 70 ICT Innovators and 3 Innovation Managers were involved. The study employed self-administered questionnaires and interview for collecting data. The study revealed that lack of patent search skills, language used in patent documents, subscription fees, unreliable electricity supply and limited access to the Internet are among the factors.
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2. Background On Patent

A patent is a property right granted for an invention for a specific period in return for disclosing the invention to the public (USPTO, 2014). The objectives of patents are to protect inventions from being used by a third party without the consent of patent owners, in compensation for making their invention open to the public (Kim et al., 2015). In other words, a patent provides power and allows the owner to say who can and cannot use the invention protected by the patent and create an opportunity for licensing the technology protected (Simpkin, 2010) and encourage innovation. These exclusive rights are given to an inventor if there is new invention. An invention is a solution to a technical problem (Nchai, 2015). An invention is granted a patent if it is new, involve an inventive step and is capable of industrial application.

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