Intellectual property can be a crucial business tool, although not everyone thinks with enough concentration about protecting their big ideas. In 2001, plumber Brad McCarthy got stuck on the remote beach in Cape York in north Queensland and spent about 6 hours getting his car out with a hand winch. He knew there has to be an improved way. In response, he invented Patent Companies, a lightweight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the super-tough nylon product, he attended a Queensland Government business seminar, in which the advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “One of the primary things we did was talk with a patent attorney to view how we could protect the thought,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is actually now purchased in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets including Australia, Europe as well as the US, and the business also offers a trademark on the distinctive original “safety orange” hue it ways to use its moulded product. Unlike McCarthy, however, many inventors and businesses with a good idea cruel their odds of success from day 1.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or any other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the public or perhaps friends. It can be a costly error. Bradley Postma, principal at patent and trademark attorney firm Cullens, says small and medium enterprises (SMEs), particularly, often neglect safeguarding their IP or think it will likely be too costly. “The vast majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe could be a particular trap for exporters because, unlike some other major markets, it does not have a grace period making it possible for public disclosure of your invention without affecting the validity of How Do I Get A Patent. That opens the way in which for an idea or product to get copied. “In Australia and the United States you can do something regarding it, provided you’re within a one-year window – in Europe you can’t, it’s too late,” Postma says. “In that case, businesses have shot themselves inside the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and everyone can copy [their idea].” Postma observes that business people often think their idea is too simple to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and straightforward, it will likely be copied and you need to get advice.”
Unitary patents on way – Margot Fröhlinger is principal director of unitary patent, European and international legal affairs in the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), which oversees about 160,000 patent applications a year. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian companies that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies have to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You need the protection of the IP and, specifically, patent protection to acquire a good return on your investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe because of complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that will end in potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a whole new unitary patent system that promises to become a game changer. This makes it possible to get protection in up to 26 participating European Union member states using the submission of a single request for the EPO.
A November 2017 EPO study, Patents, Trade and FDI inside the European Union, suggests better harmonisation of Europe’s patent system has the possible ways to increase trade and foreign direct investment in high-tech sectors, delivering annual gains of €14.6 billion ($A22.8 billion) in trade and €1.8 billion (A$2.81 billion) in foreign direct investment.
Fröhlinger believes Australian businesses across all sectors have chances to expand to the European market, which boasts greater than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and robust consumer demand. “It’s extremely important for Australian businesses to comprehend that there is a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking no more than patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s extremely important to get an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. If they don’t have (IP) folks-house they should try to get strategic business advice.”
The need for intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the Global Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts being a amount of total trade. Essentially, the measure indicates the way a country is performing on the IP front. While Australia scores well with regards to inputs into research and development, the united states (5.1 percent), Japan (4.7 percent) and Finland (2.9 %) easily outperform Australia (.3 per cent) on IP royalties.
The message? As a general rule, Australian companies are not proficient at converting research into value and treat IP almost as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, including medical device company Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the significance of intangible assets like brand name and data use, vyltsm build their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has turned into a crucial business tool and governing it is no longer only a matter of organising trademarks and patents. Intangible assets are rapidly increasingly important than tangible assets and require appropriate consideration.
Overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by Glasshouse Advisory in September 2017, endorses this type of sentiment. It reveals that 38 per cent from the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) will not be included on the balance sheets; this suggests that Invent Help Ideas are operating without insights into a significant proportion of the corporate asset base.