It was reported last week that Ministry of Defence (Mindef) was trying to force an inventor to give up the patent for his invention and to give it the Mindef. Mindef also wants the inventor to pay them S$580,000 in legal fees.
But Mindef has come out against the claims. It made its rebuttal on the Facebook page of its online magazine CyberPioneer.
“It sounds like a great story, but all these accusations are false and baseless,” Mindef said.
Mindef also insists that the inventor, Dr Ting Choon Meng’s, patents are invalid.
“MINDEF did not infringe any patent as you can’t infringe a patent that was never valid in the first place.
“The Court has considered all factors and ruled that the patent is invalid.”
However, a commenter on CyberPioneer’s Facebook page said, “I’m pretty sure the patent was valid before the court ruling. At the very least, the patent is valid in 11 other countries.”
Indeed, Dr Ting had said told The Online Citizen previously that he and his partners had filed for patent rights in Australia, Japan, Israel, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the United States of America and Europe, as well as Singapore, and have gotten patents for them.
Not only that, Ai Lin Lim-Eng also commented that, “At page 5-1, the tender document states that “Please be informed that the interested bidder shall have to complete a licensing agreement with Mobilestats (MS) before they can proceed. This is because the Singapore patent is still in force by MS.””
Mobilestats Technologies is the company that Mr Ting owns which holds the patent rights. But Mr Ting is now forced to sell off or close his company because of Mindef’s actions.
Mindef also pushed the blame onto its vendors.
“Most importantly, MINDEF is just a buyer, not the manufacturer. If MobileStats believes it has a valid case, it should pursue the matter with the manufacturer, not the user.
“The case was actually a commercial dispute between MobileStats Technologies and Syntech Engineers, which supplied the mobile BCS to MINDEF.
“As the manufacturer of the mobile BCS, the supplier, not the consumer, is responsible for honouring valid patents.”
But Mr Ting had previously said that he had taken Mindef to court because “I can’t take it up with the vendor – they will just throw it back to Mindef, because they set out the tender. In any case, it was Mindef who drew up the specifications, they decided on the vehicle, so they should uphold the IP.”
But Mindef said: “All of MINDEF’s suppliers are required to uphold Intellectual Property laws and obtain the necessary licenses so that MINDEF is free to use the products that we have paid for.
However, one commenter called out Mindef’s contradictory claims.
“What about the other allegations such as the email about Mindef telling Syntech to screw the IP. Now they are claiming they have nothing to do with the manufacturer,” the commenter said.
Apparently, Syntech had once wanted to sent a letter to Mindef but accidentally addressed it to Mr Ting.
Syntech said: “We noted your concern with regards to the possible infringement of their patent rights under their SG Publication Number 113446. Together with our legal advisors, we have studied their patent design as compared to our Medical Shelter design submitted under Tender Ref No. 7108105610. We have conclude that there is no infringement of their patent rights. Moreover, we have also concluded that their patent lacked novelty and/or inventive step… As such, it will be very difficult for them to defend their patent rights.”
To Mr Ting, “It’s clear that Mindef is aware of potential infringement and had asked Syntech about it, but the company has decided not to obtain the IP license from us.”
“Why did Mindef let that happen?” Mr Ting asked.
“Instead, they have effectively decided that our IP can be contested. And this was after IPOS has certified the patent!”
But Mindef continued to defend its actions.
“MINDEF’s actions were correct and above board,” it said.
But perhaps what Mindef said next reveals why Mindef has taken such offensive actions against Mr Ting.
“All of MINDEF’s suppliers are required to uphold Intellectual Property laws and obtain the necessary licenses so that MINDEF is free to use the products that we have paid for.
Mindef also said, “$580K was the amount that the court decided MobileStats should reimburse MINDEF for our legal fees. Not a single cent will be kept by MINDEF. The money will go to Syntech, the BCS vendor, who honoured their legal obligation to MINDEF and bore the cost of the legal proceedings.”
However, one commenter noted: “I am not a lawyer, but if MINDEF’s claim is true, then this should be an open-and-shut case. It has not responded to MobileStats’ claims of feet dragging, explained how the case took so long to resolve and how it managed to spend more than half a million dollars defending itself.”
“This article is evasive on the dragging of the case,” another commenter, Kok Peng Chan, said.
Finally, EyKs Sim said, “Self contradicting responses, patent is valid in multiple countries before mindef infringed it. They should have challenged the patent to get it revoked before they start procurement. Are they the authority to decide if a patent is valid? No. And now they try to tell everyone the patent was never valid in the first place. ?.?
“So if Mindef were right, SCDF, IPOS, Minlaw and patent office from other countries were wrong. Probability of that? They still don’t have to balls to challenge IPOS to revoke the patent with the court papers.”