Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has made good on his promise to sue G-pan creator, Prof Brian Copeland, for ownership of the patent for the modified version of the national instrument, the percussive harmonic instrument (PHI) pan. On Friday afternoon the AG, through attorneys at the chief solicitor's office, filed a civil intellectual property rights claim in the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain. The claim, a copy of which the T&T Guardian obtained has named Copeland, Marcel Byron and Keith Maynard as defendants. In an interview yesterday, Ramlogan confirmed that the claim was filed. It is the first such action to be filed by the State.
Ramlogan said the claim was filed on the advice of the high-powered legal team led by QC Vincent Nelson and comprising of attorneys Devesh Maharaj and Daniel Solomon. Ramlogan said the legal action was necessary since, "I would be acting in dereliction of my duty as guardian of the public interest, if, in the face of such advice, I failed to take action, after the country invested almost $50m in the development of our national instrument on this special project." The action seeks a revocation of the grant for the patent registered to Copeland and others. The AG is seeking for a declaration from the court that Copeland and other assignees hold the patent as "trustees" on behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and "the same ought to be assigned forthwith to the (Government) or its nominee."
It is also seeking that Copeland, Byron and Maynard disclose all agreements entered into by them with any individual, partnership or company, whereby they were granted any rights in respect of the invention of the PHI pan. The claim is also seeking the disclosure of all registrations, by each defendant of patent rights in any jurisdictions throughout the world, the identity of the person or persons in whose name "the intellectual property rights, including patent rights, of the PHI have been registered and/or recorded." The State is also asking for an account of all revenue, with supporting evidence, that have been "obtained from the use and exploitation of the PHI to date, whether through the defendants of Panadigm Innovations Ltd."
The State is also seeking an order that the defendants stop representing themselves as owners of the PHI. Ramlogan said: "This claim was necessary to protect the interests of Trinidad and Tobago and confirm our ownership of the intellectual property rights in these new versions of the pan, which was not developed by any one person but, as result of the collective efforts of dozens of university students, UWI staff members and members of the steelpan fraternity." According to the statement of claim, the defendants were issued patent number TT/A/2009/00080 claiming rights for the invention of the PHI which "provides the look and feel of the fourths and fifths tenor steel pan, but is functional in a class of instruments known as Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI.)
On April 24, 2009 the defendants applied for and were granted the patent and "without lawful authority made" Byron and Maynard joint owners. Phillip Earle was also added to the patent of ownership. Earle's name is to be added to the claim. According to the claim the Government funded the project for the PHI and on October 26, 2005, during a meeting of the Steelpan Initiatives Committee, which included Copeland and former prime minister Patrick Manning, it was agreed that the award of the patent would be in the Government's name.