IMAGINE a world without scientists. People who work in science careers are responsible for many of the things we benefit from daily – from ways to develop potential cures of diseases to engineering marvels, new technologies and strategies to meet the rapidly growing global demand for energy, food and healthcare services.
Now, imagine a world where a zesty team of women backed by prolific education and experience in science help these scientists to protect the patent rights behind their scientific discoveries and advancements, to enable them to flourish.
To dispel the stereotype that the patenting (to get the official legal right to make or sell an invention) field is a male-dominated practice due to its technical-laden roles, we bring three Malaysian females to the fore by highlighting their achievements and contributions in science, albeit through patenting. These tenacious young ladies are putting to good use their university education and training in science to improve the quality of life to humanity through biotechnology and other science-related commercial ventures and lending patent protection to scientific researches.
Meet Noorserra Aryecca Armat, better known as Serra. Serra, a Biotechnology degree holder from Monash University, Australia, also a Registered Malaysian Patent Agent, helps clients to protect their patents in Malaysia and beyond. She muses that her venture into the field of patent consultancy was part of her career plans.
Says Serra: “When I returned to Malaysia in 2013 after graduating from Australia, I personally felt that job options for genetics were quite limited or not exactly matching with what I am passionate about. I wanted to be financially independent faster, so I started to apply for jobs and I made sure to look for patent jobs as well. As lady luck came calling, I received a call a day after I applied with a patent firm and landed a job as a Patent Executive!”
According to her, patenting is not an unfamiliar jargon for her because she had studied about patenting during her undergraduate studies. Having transitioned from another patenting firm to Adipven (M) Sdn Bhd where she is currently attached to, Serra says, “Naturally, my passion in patenting leans towards creating awareness among Malaysian companies, biotech SMEs in particular, on the importance of patent. They should not be afraid in investing in patents if they want to taste the success of biotech SMEs in other countries – as being granted a patent for products and innovations improves the overall economic growth of companies.”
Similarly, with all stars aligned towards her career goal, Wan Nurul Aisyah shares that a career in “patenting consultancy” is almost a “stumbled-upon career” but adds, it as a well calculated risk. She initially worked in the Research and Development Department at a private institution for two years before venturing into the fascinating world of patenting. Her researches back then were mainly focused on environmental monitoring and safety through the development of biosensors.
How does it feel then, from being a researcher to a patent attorney? She describes her job as “challenging and exciting” as she gets to assist her clients in a patent process from beginning to end starting from conducting searches, preparing and reporting patentability analysis to drafting patent specifications and prosecuting right up to registration. “Being a research graduate, it has definitely assisted me in the field of patenting, particularly in understanding the technicalities of an invention,” says the newly-wed.
For her, it is important to create awareness among clients, business owners, researchers and society because the value of a patent is not something that can be seen with bare eyes until their inventions are in the market or when infringement occurs.
Adding weight to the trio of science enthusiast-turned-patent-experts is Dr Kumutha Priya. Prior to her career in patenting consultancy, the Ipoh-born Kumutha Priya worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the High Impact Research (HIR) Centre in University of Malaya which is one of Asia’s leading research facilities. She says, “Working close to five years in the research field and having been exposed to numerous high-end and cutting-edge research technologies and instruments, has piqued my interest on how inventions and discoveries are protected. That was when I chose to venture into patenting .”
She reminisces, “When I began, it was an adventure like no other. A career switch to patent was unchartered territory to me. It helps to have a Ph.D. to better understand an invention and search journal articles more effectively.” Armed with skills in scientific writing and research background, and with prior experience in drug discovery when she was a Research Assistant, she was ready to take the plunge. Kumutha Priya says she has found her science background beneficial to her patenting work relating to pharmaceuticals, food science, medical device and biotech industries. Summing up her career choice, she professes, “Having an interest in both science and law, working in patent is like having the best of both worlds!”
The millennials, all united by their passion in science and unruffled by the gender imbalance within patent practitioners have unanimously agreed that their science background has definitely been an asset. So, what can these women bring to the table for the clients, and what can clients expect from them?
“When preparing for a case, it is often not a one-(wo)man show. You are working in a team and the size depends on the complexity of the case,” Aisyah says. She explains, “For example, when a client comes to us to file a patent application concerning biotech, we all know that the patent process cannot be controlled because ultimately you have a patent examiner to please. However, you have the complete ability to define the invention and guide the process to a positive outcome, which can be achieved in a high percentage of cases if the attorney is familiar with the field. This is where our scientific backgrounds come in to fill the gap. Our diverse areas of specialist knowledge in biotech, genetics and biomedical science have the advantage to help clients achieve a positive outcome in the patent space.
Serra chips in and says that teamwork plays a key role to ensure the successful outcome of a patent case. Combining their familiarity with scientific jargons and insight as patent agents, they regularly discuss ideas and viewpoints like, “How might a particular patent examiner approach a certain patent case?” or “What is the potential approval of a patent, like, does it involve a novelty or inventive step?”
Kumutha Priya says, “Contrary to public perception, we want to share with potential inventors that obtaining a patent for your biotech invention is not too difficult, not too time-consuming and will be well-worth the effort if you have the right team and a reputable firm to assist your organisation. This is because it is not often that one will find three women scientists working together in an IP & C firm in Malaysia and we are proud to be one of them.”
When you have young women scientists like Serra, Aisyah and Kumutha Priya who are not only passionate about their jobs in assisting clients obtain a patent for their inventions or discoveries, but also professional at what they do, you can be rest assured that the scientific world will keep flourishing and benefiting humankind.
Noorserra Aryecca Armat is a Registered Malaysian Patent Agent with a Degree in Biotechnology from Monash University Australia. Fluent in English and Bahasa Malaysia, she also speaks Bajau and Dusun languages and basic Mandarin.
Wan Nurul Aisyah who plans to sit for the Malaysian Patent Agent examination this year holds a Masters in Science (Industrial Science) from Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) and a Degree in Biotechnology from INTI International University. She speaks fluent English, Bahasa Malaysia and basic Mandarin.
Dr Kumutha Priya has recently passed the Malaysian Patent Agent examination and holds a Ph.D. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from University of Malaya and a Degree in Biomedical Science from University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). She speaks fluent English, Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and basic Mandarin.
NOTE: Serra, Aisyah and Dr. Priya are Senior Associates at Adipven (M) Sdn. Bhd., a boutique Intellectual Property and Commercialisation (IP & C) firm based in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. As the only IP & C firm in Malaysia certified with ISO 9001:2015 standard and with an Eco Office status, Adipven has expertise in protecting the rights of individuals and corporations in patents, particularly in the biotech industry. pd