Intellectual property can be a crucial business tool, but not everyone thinks hard enough about protecting their big ideas. In 2001, plumber Brad McCarthy got stuck on a 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. Responding, he invented Maxtrax, a light-weight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the What Is A Patent, he attended a Queensland Government business seminar, where the advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “One of the primary things we did was talk to a patent attorney to find out how you could protect the concept,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is now purchased in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets such as Australia, Europe and also the US, as well as 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 great idea cruel their likelihood of success from day one.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the general public or perhaps friends. It may be a costly error. Bradley Postma, principal at patent and trademark attorney firm Cullens, says small and medium enterprises (SMEs), specifically, often neglect safeguarding their IP or think it will probably be too expensive. “The vast majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe can be a particular trap for exporters because, unlike a few other major markets, it does not have a grace period making it possible for public disclosure of your invention without affecting the validity of a subsequent patent application. That opens the way for the idea or product to get copied. “In Australia and america that you can do something about this, provided you’re inside 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 anyone 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 probably be copied and you need to get advice.”
Unitary patents on way – Margot Fröhlinger is principal director of How To Get A Patent On An Idea, European and international legal affairs on the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), which oversees about 160,000 patent applications a year. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian firms that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies must innovate – and protect their inventions. “You need the protection of your own IP and, particularly, patent protection in order to get an excellent return on the investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe because of complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that can result in potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a whole new unitary patent system that promises to be a game changer. This makes it easy to get protection in up to 26 participating European Union member states with the submission of a single request towards the EPO.
A November 2017 EPO study, Patents, Trade and FDI inside the European Union, suggests better harmonisation of Europe’s patent system has got the possibility 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 possibilities to expand to the European market, which boasts a lot more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and robust consumer demand. “It’s extremely important for Australian businesses to understand that there is a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking only about patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s extremely important with an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. If they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they ought to attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The price of intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the worldwide Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts as a portion of total trade. In essence, the measure indicates just how a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well with regards to inputs into research and development, the united states (5.1 %), Japan (4.7 per cent) and Finland (2.9 percent) easily outperform Australia (.3 percent) on IP royalties.
Your message? For the most part, Australian companies are certainly not great at converting research into value and treat IP nearly as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, like medical device dppdwz Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the significance of intangible assets like logo and data use, and make their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has grown to be Invention Prototype 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.
An overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by Glasshouse Advisory in September 2017, endorses such a sentiment. It reveals that 38 percent from the companies’ value (in regards to a$550 billion) is not really included on their own balance sheets; this indicates that investors are operating without insights in to a significant proportion from the corporate asset base.