Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Goddamn Idea Was Stolen

The case says so much for intellectual property and copy right protection in Singapore. Two doctors had patented their design (filed in 2002, granted in 2005), yet the court has thrown out their claim because the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has been using the invention since 2009. The mistake here is that the inventors had pitched their prototype to unscrupulous parties. The Singapore Civil Defence Force was at least one law abiding entity who had applied for, and granted a vendor licence.

Years ago, two of us were invited to make a sales pitch to a GLC for our programmable logic controller (PLC), a standard spiel about the innovative features of our engineered product. We were surprised to face some 50 staff in the meeting room, all armed with note pads in hand. A few exchanges with the eager audience during the preamble raised our antennae, and we cut our technical presentation from the template 2 hour talk to 30 minutes. We were salaried to sell a manufactured product, not give away company secrets. Discrete follow up phone calls confirmed our suspicions, those guys assembled had intended to copy our proprietary design.

Dr Ting and Dr Mak were disadvantaged in that their "mobile first aid post" concept existed only on paper. Mark Zuckerberg was alleged in the movie version to rebut the Winklevoss brothers, who had accused him of intellectual theft, "If you guys were the inventors of Facebook you'd have invented Facebook." The lawsuit against Zuckerberg was settled out of court, and the rich twins were wealthier by an undisclosed sum.

The local lawsuit may not have taken on the scale of the Apple/Microsoft or the Apple/Samsung court cases, with parties arguing about the merits of "look and feel" similarities. The Singapore invention is also about functionality, essentially a mobile medical vehicle that transforms into a resuscitation station with surgical equipment, built-in suction system for removal of blood, fluids and debris, and essential emergency life saving devices.

But if a patent filed and registered with a legal body, not some $2 outfit with a hidden political agenda, can be declared invalid with the stroke of a pen, one doubts we will ever see an Apple/Microsoft/Samsung type litigation in Singapore courts.


  1. It is amazing how badly this government smells. 50 years of rot- all of them have turned into a bunch of F*cking roting cu*ts.

  2. Anyone interested to mine Bitcoins?

  3. Your personal experience is not unique. Years ago, businessmen venturing abroad feared talking to GLCs who would then cut them out by going directly to their partners. If you were a foreign partner you would of course prefer to team up with the GlC, with their deep pockets and influence. The Court of Appeal talks of ethical conduct by professionals as a given in the Dr. Susan Lim case. What about Mindef?

  4. " yet the court has thrown out their claim because the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has been using the invention since 2009."

    Why anyone so surprised when it comes to government entity ?

    Anyone see with this familiarity remark ?

    "Plainly, a person inside a polling station cannot be said to be within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station. A polling station must have adequate space for the voting to be carried out. Any space has a perimeter. The words "within a radius of 200 metres" ' therefore mean "200 metres from the perimeter of" any polling station. "

    we know this type of nonsense can only be applied with super entity, not to lesser mortals.

    so can GLCs use any patent in the world without license according to their own interpretation of law as long as they have been using the design all along. Anyone can confirm that ?

    Apple, watch out for the tree ! We are waiting for sPhone, sPad, SinTV, SinBook, SinPro created by GLCs, ... and it could well be all legal design and trademark.

  5. Rule of law or ruled by law?

    1. May I add, rule by laws that suits the rulers !

      Incidentally,are the medical doctors in MINDEF are Officers first then Medical Doctors or Doctors first ?

  6. at least in the past, an employee in a glc would get nothing for coming out with an innovation or invention; everything belongs to the glc. So says the boss of TH who was then a director in that glc. There's just no win-win sharing mindset.

    even at tertiary institutions, any idea must be shared but of cos the credit likely won't belong to the chap who started the idea....

  7. Ruled by emperors without clothes........