Intellectual property can be a crucial business tool, although 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 a better way. In response, he invented Inventhelp Patent Information, a light-weight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the super-tough nylon product, 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 with a patent attorney to find out how you could protect the thought,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is now purchased in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets including Australia, Europe as well as the US, as well as the business also has 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 1.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or any other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the public as well as friends. It can 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 be expensive. “The majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe could 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 Inventhelp Store Products. That opens just how for the idea or product to get copied. “In Australia and america that you can do something regarding it, provided you’re within a one-year window – in Europe you can’t, it’s far too late,” Postma says. “In that case, businesses have shot themselves within the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and anyone can copy [their idea].” Postma observes that business owners often think their idea is too easy to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and simple, it will be copied and you should 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 annually. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian firms that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies have to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You require the protection of your IP and, particularly, patent protection to acquire an excellent return on your 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 to be a game changer. This will make it possible to get protection in up to 26 participating European Union member states with all the submission of the 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 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 opportunities to expand into 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 comprehend that there exists a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking only about patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s very important to get an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. Should they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they need to try to get strategic business advice.”
The need for intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the worldwide Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts as being a portion of total trade. Basically, the measure indicates how a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well when it comes to inputs into research and development, the US (5.1 per cent), Japan (4.7 percent) and Finland (2.9 %) easily outperform Australia (.3 per cent) on IP royalties.
The content? As a general rule, Australian companies usually are not proficient at converting research into value and treat IP almost as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, such as medical device company Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the value of intangible assets including brand name and data use, vyltsm build their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has become 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.
An overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by Glasshouse Advisory in September 2017, endorses such a sentiment. It reveals that 38 percent of the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) will not be included on their own balance sheets; this means that that I Want To Patent My Idea are operating without insights into a significant proportion from the corporate asset base.