“No patent, no right”: UP lawyer highlights scientists’ need to protect inventions

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In the ‘90s, Dr. Neila Cortes-Maramba of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Manila led a team of scientists investigating 10 medicinal plants in the Philippines.

Two of these plants exhibited promising results—one for cough and the other for urinary tract infections. The team patented Vitex negundo (Lagundi) and Blumea balsamifera (Sambong) in syrup and tablet forms, granting them exclusive rights to these medicines. 

Today, Lagundi and Sambong are essential remedies for coughs and UTIs, proving lucrative for the pharmaceutical industry. 


According to the World International Patent Organization (WIPO), a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.

Had Cortes-Maramba and her team of scientists not applied for a patent, UP Manila and its partners would not have earned more than P50 million in remittances through royalties and licensing fees, nor would they have been able to claim the invention as their own and would leave it vulnerable to idea theft.

If an invention or creation is not patented, “it belongs now to the public domain where anyone can reproduce or manufacture it,” said Atty. Josephine R. Santiago of the UP Diliman College of Law during the 7th session of the iStories webinar, hosted by UP–Diliman College of Science. 

Atty. Santiago is an award-winning intellectual property (IP) expert who served as the Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL).

A patent, as a form of IP, provides the inventor exclusive rights to their creations. “The right of a patentee is only to prevent third persons from manufacturing, offering for sale, using, selling, or importing the invention,” Atty. Santiago explained. “It is not to make the invention, but to prevent others.” 

She added that when multiple inventors unknowingly created the same invention, the first to file the patent secures the rights to it.


UP Diliman has successfully patented various inventions, such as CoaTiN, a coating technology that uses titanium nitride to extend the lifespan of metallic tools, developed by Dr. Henry Ramos of the National Institute of Physics (NIP). 

Another patented invention is the amebiasis detection kit that quickly identifies the disease using saliva, invented by Dr. Windell Rivera, Dr. Angeline Odelia Concepcion, and Dr. Alexander Edward Dy of the Institute of Biology (IB).

Patents not only benefit inventors but also stimulate innovation and improve existing products. 

Applying for patents requires detailed explanations of how the invention works. This information becomes publicly available upon patent approval, allowing other inventors to draw inspiration from or enhance the patented work.

Atty. Santiago also touched upon three other types of IP: trademarks, which protect identifying symbols and expressions; copyright which grants rights from the moment of creation; and trade secrets, which safeguards valuable confidential information.

iStories is a series of monthly innovation-themed talks, storytelling, and activities featuring local and international scientists. The initiative aims to ignite the creativity and inventiveness of young scientists not just from UPD-College of Science but also from other institutes inside and outside of the University of the Philippines (UP). For inquiries about iStories, please message adride_staff@science.upd.edu.ph



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