Every business starts with an idea. Each of the millions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that operate across the globe every day started with an idea that took shape in someone’s mind and made its way to market.
To learn the role that intellectual property rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity, Bhutan observed the world intellectual property day (WIP) on 26 April.
The theme for WIP Day this year is IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market.
The Chief IP Officer of Department of Intellectual Property (DoIP) under Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA), Tempa Tshering, said the event offers a unique opportunity to join others around the world to reflect on how IP contributes to innovation in business, flourishing of the arts and driving the technological growth in our world.
Today’s celebration in Bhutan is one among more than hundreds of such celebrations in different countries around the world. This year’s global theme for the World IP Day celebration is “IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market” which was chosen mainly because globally statistics shows that 90 percent of businesses are SMEs as in the case of our country’s share of Cottage and Small Industries.
He added that SMEs can use IPs to build stronger and competitive businesses by incorporating new designs & packaging, creating distinctive trademarks, using valuable literary and artistic works and adopting appropriate technologies. On the whole, with IPs business can create value, communities can thrive and national economies can prosper.
The Secretary for MoEA, Karma Tshering, said that innovation and creativity, and inventiveness are new ingredients of success in the process of globalization and rapid technological advances.
“The IP has become a key competitive asset for businesses and enterprises to thrive in highly competitive market and continue to provide newer goods and services that meet the demands of the consumers and the society. This process has led to a paradigm shift in doing businesses today by constantly innovating to improve the efficiency of service delivery and in the ability to respond effectively to the changing needs of everyday life,” he said.
The Secretary added that globally, with the growth in industrial activities and businesses, demand for assurances and confidence over their investment and resources also increased.
“One way of achieving this objective is to put in place an effective IP protection system that will serve to encourage creativity and innovation, and deploy as a tool to enhance competitive edge in both the domestic and international market.”
For this reason, and as amplified by new rules of global trade and commerce, IP has come to assume a central position linking various aspects of international and national trade including the digital and electronic commerce, added the Secretary.
Bhutan becomes part of multilateral trading system, the needs and interests of our own domestic businesses, trade and commerce must also be able to leverage on the IP system to enhance our own capabilities and innovative potential.
In particular, our cottage and small industry sector which are constrained by access to capital, infrastructure and resources, has enormous opportunity to innovative in their conduct of their businesses and use the IP system to gain competitive advantage by protecting their innovation and creation, the Secretary said.
In the country, the situation is same as around the world and a strong need to educate the general public about the four intellectual properties that is, trademark, patent, industrial design and patent has always been felt.
The general public can use the intellectual property protection system as a stimulus for the social, cultural, technological and economic growth of the country.
Meanwhile, the DoIP under the MoEA announced the winners of national trademark award for the year at a function in the capital.
The national trademark award was introduced in 2018 to recognize the role and significance of the trademark in promoting business and building recognizable brand through improvement and maintenance of the quality of products in the markets. Through such IP awards, it is expected that our local businesses will understand the importance of creating, protecting and utilizing their trademarks.
Bhutan became one of the member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1994.
The founder of Chechay Sanitary Pads, Pema Chozom, who was the first winner of the national trademark said, “I found lots of girls and women are ashamed to talk about their period and still many follows with unhygienic practices mostly in rural areas and at the same time, I came to know importing of Sanitary products are bit expensive in developing countries like ours.”
She said that it happened in 2017 when her younger sister gave birth in the hospital. “It was in the middle of the night, all shops were closed and she was bleeding heavily. I realized how that tiny piece really matters for women like us which inspired me to come up with Chechay Sanitary Pads which means tenderness and softness.”
However, she said that marketing of the produce is the biggest challenges as there are thousands of imported sanitary pads. “Most of our girls and women are used to with imported pads and it’s hard for us to penetrate the market.”
She said that the government is buying thousands of sanitary pads. “So if government could purchase from us, it would be really helpful for startup like ours.”
Founder of Kingdom Essences based in Nubi Gewog in Trongsa, Pema C. Gyaltshen, who received second winner for the national trademark said that the business was inspired by His Majesty the King. “What began as an effort to support the Nubi farming community in improving rural livelihoods?” However, the business is challenge with acquiring right eco-friendly packaging materials.
Meanwhile, promoters of Laykha Dairy Delights, Tashi Dhendup Dorji, who received the third winner for the national trademark, said that the country rely on import of food items. He added, “We are self-sufficient in dairy products, however, there are not many professional manufacturers that are creating quality products.”
“Laykha wanted to be the house hold brand in Bhutan. We want to create and change how Bhutanese view our local products. We Bhutanese have this notion that local products are inferior and of lower quality, what we at Laykha aim to achieve is creating a good quality product that is as good as if not better then imported counterparts,” he said.
Meanwhile, coinciding with the WIP Day, the Department also launched new videos to create awareness on different IPs, CBRT ringtone on IP for B-mobile and TashiCell.