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 six hours getting his car out with a hand winch. He knew there has to be an improved way. In response, he invented Maxtrax, a lightweight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the How Do I Patent A Product, he attended a Queensland Government business seminar, in which the advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “One of the first things we did was talk to a patent attorney to view how we could protect the idea,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It really is now sold in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets including Australia, Europe and also the US, as well as the business even 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 recommended cruel their likelihood of success from day 1.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or some other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the 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), particularly, 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 various 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 for an idea or product to become copied. “In Australia and america you can do something about this, provided you’re in a one-year window – in Europe you can’t, it’s too late,” Postma says. “In that case, businesses have shot themselves within the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and everyone can copy [their idea].” Postma observes that company owners often think their idea is just too very easy to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and straightforward, it will probably be copied and you should get advice.”
Unitary patents on way – Margot Fröhlinger is principal director of Invention Ideas Website, 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 need to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You require the protection of your IP and, specifically, patent protection to acquire a great return on your investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe due to complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that may result in potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a brand new unitary patent system that promises to be a game changer. This will make it easy to get protection in as much as 26 participating European Union member states using the submission of the single request to the EPO.
A November 2017 EPO study, Patents, Trade and FDI within the European Union, suggests better harmonisation of Europe’s patent system provides 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 in to the European market, which boasts more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and strong consumer demand. “It’s essential for Australian businesses to know that you will find 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. When they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they need to attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The need for intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses may come as the worldwide Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts as being a portion of total trade. Essentially, the measure indicates how a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well with regards to inputs into research and development, the usa (5.1 per cent), Japan (4.7 percent) and Finland (2.9 percent) easily outperform Australia (.3 percent) on IP royalties.
Your message? As a general rule, Australian companies are not good at converting research into value and treat IP nearly as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, such as medical device dppdwz Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the significance of intangible assets including brand and data use, and build their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has grown to be Inventhelp Pittsburgh Corporate Headquarters and governing it is no longer only a matter of organising trademarks and patents. Intangible assets are rapidly more and more 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 % from the companies’ value (about A$550 billion) will not be included on their balance sheets; this means that that investors are operating without insights in to a significant proportion from the corporate asset base.