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Culture, Legal Affairs To Check Pan Patents

By Terry Joseph
July 26, 2004

Culture Minister Senator Joan Yuille-Williams has promised that a collaboration with the Legal Affairs Ministry will monitor developments in the wider pan world to thwart attempts by others to patent steelband instruments or their crucial components.

Speaking Friday night at the inaugural Laventille Steelband Festival panyard concerts, which was hosted by Tokyo at the John John theatre, Yuille-Williams, referring to a story carried exclusively in that day's edition of the Express, said: "I have already been in touch with the Ministry of Legal Affairs to set up a system to monitor attempts by foreigners to patent steelband instrument designs.

"It was astonishing to see the story said the latest case involves a Trinidadian, so our concerns are wider than first imagined. We will be looking at such developments through a number of channels, to ensure this kind of thing does not happen again because, as the story also said, the patent application had been made months before it was approved. We shall try to make sure such a thing does not ever happen again," Yuille-Williams said.

The burden of her comment was inspired by the story Trini-born American gets patent for pan, which detailed Trevor King's successful application for a patent for a circle of fifths tenor pan, an instrument long designed and developed by former Pan Am North Stars leader, Anthony Williams.

The story also spoke of moves by Pan Trinbago officials to contest US Patent 6,750,386, which King secured for his "invention" and which, according to experts based in America, did little else but reverse the order of note-placement, making the progression clockwise, instead of the anti-clockwise standard.

Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold, himself a pan tuner, yesterday said his organisation will challenge King's patent, since it does not represent an invention but merely changes a couple of minor things. "This man cannot be allowed to take the work of those who have been slaving away all these years at developing the instrument and simply call it his own," Arnold said.

King's application was published on February 26, 2004, and it was granted on June 15, allowing some three months for filing of a pre-issue challenge. One of King's references is the Price/Whitmyre patent, which created a furore here at first announcement (2002). In addition, King's patent resembles a note-placement sketch in a book by Swiss pan tuner Ulf Kronman.

In his description of prior art, King said: "Numerous innovations for musical drum devices have been provided in the prior art (listed). Even though these innovations may be suitable for the specific individual purposes to which they address, they differ from the present invention.

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