A 38-year-old former jeepney driver invented a new layer of protection in the hydraulic brake system of vehicles to reduce the number of road accidents.
Melchor Heñosa, a father of five from Pakil, Laguna, is the inventor of the “Leak Saving Valve for Brake System of Motorized Vehicles”, a device that immediately stops any leak of brake fluid, enabling the driver to regain control of the vehicle and avoid collision and other deadly accidents.
“At present, drivers are only advised to properly maintain their vehicles and avoid being reckless on the road. But even if they are not reckless, there is a chance that the brake fluid can leak and they lose the power to control their vehicles. This is why drivers need the brake leak sealing valve,” Heñosa says in an interview at the IP Center in Taguig City.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines approved the patent for Heñosa’s invention on April 8, 2013, or nearly 19 months after he submitted the application on Sept. 16, 2011. Nobody contested his application for the territorial patent, proving that it was of unique design. “No existing device anywhere in the world was designed for the same purpose,” he says.
Heñosa, who used to drive a jeepney in Silang, Cavite and served as an auto mechanic at the same time, compared his invention to a fuse which protects an electrical circuit and prevents excess current. “It is like an electric fuse which prevents fire. With brake leak sealing valve, we can prevent loss of brake fluid. Once you press down the brake pedal, your brake system becomes functional again which is very, very powerful to control the vehicle,” he says.
Heñosa, who reached second year in high school, developed the idea as early as 2010 while waiting for a cousin at a car park of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. “Because of the long waiting time, I looked at a vehicle and thought about the need for a check valve in case of fluid depletion,” he says, adding that he himself encountered four “lost brake” incidents as a driver in the past.
“My imagination was triggered when I went home. A few days later, at around 2 a.m., I started illustrating a design for the brake leak sealing valve,” he says.
Aside from driving a jeepney, Heñosa was also a distributor of seedlings for reforestation projects in Laguna and was the founding president of Potential Seeds Marketing Cooperative. A member of the cooperative, from General Santos City, agreed to finance the development of a prototype.
The following year, he submitted the prototype to IPOPhl at Upper McKinley Road in Taguig.
“When I was applying for patent, I remember hitch-hiking with jeepney and truck drivers from Laguna province,” he says.
“My motivation was to protect my intellectual property in the Philippines. I was also confident about the authority of IPO to enforce my IP rights,” he says.
After he obtained the patent in April 2013, he began the long process of developing and perfecting the product.
He was able to produce 500 pieces initially, which were used by drivers based in Antipolo, Tagaytay and Sta. Rosa. He had to recall these units later to replace some parts. “I had a problem with toolings. And the appropriate process was not available in the Philippines,” he says.
After focusing on product development for five years, he discovered the right solution this year. On Aug. 4, the testing of an enhanced prototype proved successful. “I also developed an attachment with electronics and magnetic sensors that will deliver information to the driver in case of fluid depletion. I already filed for another patent for this,” he says.
Heñosa says with the latest development, he is now ready for mass production of the brake leak sealing valve. “It is ideal for all types of vehicles using hydraulic systems such as jeepneys, elfs, delivery vans, trucks and cars,” he says.
The invention consists of 42 pieces, including the aluminum body, washers, rubber, bolts and nuts. He spent around P4.5 million for the product development, including grants from different government agencies such as the Technology Application and Promotion Institute.
“We are ready for mass production finally, and we have received a lot of inquiries from different customers,” he says.
Heñosa says Pasang Masda, an organization of jeepney drivers, is interested in availing of the brake leak sealing valve, which costs around P4,000 per unit.
Heñosa is moving his office from Los Baños to San Pablo City which is a transit point for many vehicles bound for Southern Tagalog, Bicol Region and the Visayas.
He received the Outstanding Invention (Tuklas) Award from the Department of Science and Technology and a Gold Medal from the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2016.
Heñosa encourages other inventors to file for patent with IPOPhl as a way of protecting their IP rights. “You need perseverance as an inventor. I spent eight years in product development. If you failed 100 times, you should rise up 100 times. Just go on with your goal,” he says.
Data from IPOPhl show that the agency receives an average of 2,500 patent applications a year, of which about 10 percent are from Filipinos and the rest from non-residents.
Patent applications in 2017 reached 2,585, or nearly unchanged from 2,524 in 2016. Of the total applications in 2017, 284 or 11 percent were from Filipinos and 2,301 or 89 percent were from non-residents or foreigners.
The IPOPhl provides patents for inventions, utility models and industrial designs. A patent for an invention is granted, if it is new, if it involves an inventive step and if it is industrially applicable.
A patent for an invention protects it for 20 years from counterfeiting or imitation, allowing the inventor to gain considerable profit from the unique product.
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