Canaan Bridges Consulting | 4 min read |
Guyana is fast becoming one of the newest ”goldrush” countries for the exploration of oil and gas.
As interests in the oil and gas industry in Guyana gains momentum, government and entrepreneurs should consider what place technology transfer may have in the development of the country’s economy. In the context of this note and the oil and gas industry, technology transfer relates to the transfer of high technology equipment or devices for use in the exploration, extraction, and refining of products. Foreign companies are unlikely to transfer technology to host countries without some safeguard on how their proprietary interest will be protected.
One relevant consideration for Guyana in ensuing years is: how will foreign rights holders’ intellectual property (IP) be safeguarded? Are there opportunities for Guyanese-owned corporations to conduct further research and development on the technologies used in the industry? Will there be opportunities for licensing the technology, and if so, what IP strategy considerations best serve the interests of Guyana? These issues are just some of the dynamics which government and businesses who will work in the industry need to consider, especially if technology transfer becomes a relevant part of service agreements.
Should a private or public corporation have an interest in using specific technologies from a foreign company on a licensing basis, what typical dynamics should be considered, specific to Guyana? Three such considerations are specified below.
The first relates to the extent of IP protection which foreign IP holders receive in Guyana. In terms of patent protection, Guyana is among the few countries that provide less than 20 years of protection for patent rights. This may or may not be a concern for a foreign patentee, depending on whether the technology is also registered in other countries that provide a longer term of protection than in Guyana, or if the patent life cycle is almost at an end. The extent to which IP (specifically, trademarks, patents, copyrights, and industrial designs) is effectively enforced in Guyana is also a relevant consideration for foreign IP rights holders.
Second, fostering domestic innovation is increasingly becoming a priority for growth-oriented economies. Guyana should canvass prospects of inventing around the patented oil and gas related technology, thereby developing its own pool of domestic resources in the field. When this is possible, there may be a greater likelihood of job creation through skill diversification, local product innovation and economic growth in ensuing years.
The third concerns the use of intellectual property to build sustainability in spill-over businesses created through developments in the oil and gas industry space. There is a significant difference between starting a business and sustaining it. Guyanese entrepreneurs should have easy access to the right IP knowledge and resources to develop, monetize and maintain their IP asset, even beyond local and regional borders.
Another point to consider is whether Guyana’s Indigenous groups are made party to access to benefit sharing schemes, should oil exploration take place on Indigenous land. The extent of recognition given to these groups will likely determine if this factor bears any significance.
The dynamics canvassed above, though mostly relevant to IP and technology licensing in Guyana’s oil and gas industry, are also useful to most IP-intensive business with keen interests in leveraging their IP.
Canaan Bridges Consulting provides intellectual property and trade-related consulting to firms, governments and interested parties in developed, developing and least developed economies. Queries about this article can be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org