Intellectual property could 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 by helping cover their a hand winch. He knew there must be a much better way. Responding, he invented Maxtrax, a light-weight 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 see the way we could protect the idea,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is now sold in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets such as Australia, Europe and the US, and the business even offers a trademark on the distinctive original “safety orange” hue it uses for its moulded product. Unlike McCarthy, however, many inventors and businesses with a good idea cruel their likelihood of success from day 1.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or other How To Patent An Idea With Invent Help before they spruik their idea to investors, people or even friends. It could be a costly error. Bradley Postma, principal at patent and trademark attorney firm Cullens, says small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in particular, often neglect safeguarding their IP or think it will be expensive. “The 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 the subsequent patent application. That opens the way in which to have an idea or product to be copied. “In Australia and the usa that you can do something regarding it, provided you’re within a one-year window – in Europe you can’t, it’s too far gone,” 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 company owners often think their idea is too simple to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and uncomplicated, 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 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 companies that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies have to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You have to have the protection of your own IP and, particularly, patent protection to get a good return on the investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe due to complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that will lead to potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a new unitary patent system that promises as a game changer. This will make it easy to get protection in up to 26 participating European Union member states with the submission of a single request for the EPO.
A November 2017 EPO study, Patents, Trade and FDI in 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 understand that you will find a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking just about New Ideas For Inventions,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s extremely important to get an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. Should they don’t have (IP) people in-house they should attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The price of intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the Global Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts as a amount of total trade. Basically, the measure indicates the way 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 per cent), Japan (4.7 %) and Finland (2.9 %) easily outperform Australia (.3 %) on IP royalties.
The message? For the most part, Australian companies usually are not great at converting research into value and treat IP nearly as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, such as medical device company Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the importance of intangible assets like brand name and data use, and build their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has become a crucial business tool and governing it is no longer just a matter of organising trademarks and patents. Intangible assets are rapidly becoming more important than kxwlfd assets and require appropriate consideration.
Overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by How To Patent An Idea Or Product in September 2017, endorses this type of sentiment. It reveals that 38 percent of the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) is not really included on their own balance sheets; this means that that investors are operating without insights in to a significant proportion of the corporate asset base.