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 News, a lightweight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the super-tough nylon product, he attended a Queensland Government business seminar, where advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “Among the first things we did was talk to a patent attorney to view the way 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 and also the US, and also 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 a great idea cruel their odds of success from day one.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or 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), specifically, often neglect safeguarding their IP or think it will likely be too costly. “The majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe could be a particular trap for exporters because, unlike various other major markets, it does not have a grace period allowing for public disclosure of the invention without affecting the validity of Inventhelp Locations. That opens the way in which 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 far too late,” Postma says. “In that case, businesses have shot themselves in the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and anyone can copy [their idea].” Postma observes that business owners often think their idea is too very easy to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and uncomplicated, it will likely be copied and you should get advice.”
Unitary patents on way – Margot Fröhlinger is principal director of unitary patent, European and international legal affairs at the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), which oversees about 160,000 patent applications annually. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian businesses that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies must innovate – and protect their inventions. “You require 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 due to complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that will lead to potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a brand new unitary patent system that promises as a game changer. This makes it possible to get protection in approximately 26 participating European Union member states using the submission of any single request to 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 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 in to the European market, which boasts greater than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and robust consumer demand. “It’s very important for Australian businesses to understand that there exists a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking only about 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 make an effort 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 portion of total trade. Essentially, the measure indicates the way a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well when it comes to inputs into research and development, the united states (5.1 percent), Japan (4.7 per cent) and Finland (2.9 percent) easily outperform Australia (.3 %) on IP royalties.
Your message? Typically, 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 such as logo and data use, vyltsm build their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has developed into a crucial business tool and governing it is not 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 this type of sentiment. It reveals that 38 percent in the companies’ value (about A$550 billion) will not be included on the balance sheets; this suggests that Invention Website are operating without insights into a significant proportion from the corporate asset base.