Intellectual property can be a crucial business tool, however, 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 Maxtrax, a lightweight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the How To Patent Ideas, he attended a Queensland Government business seminar, where the advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “Among the first 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 actually now sold in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets including Australia, Europe and the US, and also 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 recommended cruel their chances of success from the first day.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or some other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the general public as well as 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 majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe can be quite a particular trap for exporters because, unlike various other major markets, it does not have a grace period allowing for public disclosure of your invention without affecting the validity of a subsequent patent application. That opens the way in which to have an idea or product to be copied. “In Australia and the United States that you can do something about this, provided you’re in 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 people often think their idea is just too very easy to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and simple, it will probably be copied and you have 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 annually. 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 require the protection of the IP and, particularly, patent protection to get a good return on your own investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe because of Patent Invention across multiple jurisdictions that can result in potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a new unitary patent system that promises to become a game changer. This will make it easy to get protection in approximately 26 participating European Union member states using the submission of a single request towards the EPO.
A November 2017 EPO study, Patents, Trade and FDI in the European Union, suggests better harmonisation of Europe’s patent system provides 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 opportunities to expand into the European market, which boasts more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and strong 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. Should they don’t have (IP) folks-house they ought to attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The need for intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses may come as the Global Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts as being a percentage of total trade. Basically, the measure indicates just how a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well in terms of inputs into research and development, the united states (5.1 percent), Japan (4.7 percent) and Finland (2.9 %) easily outperform Australia (.3 %) on IP royalties.
Your message? Typically, Australian companies usually are not good at converting research into value and treat IP nearly as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, including medical device company Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the importance of intangible assets including brand and data use, and wksgqs their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, How Do I Patent A Product has developed into a crucial business tool and governing it has stopped being just a matter of organising trademarks and patents. Intangible assets are rapidly becoming 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 per cent from the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) is not included on their own balance sheets; this means that that investors are operating without insights into a significant proportion of the corporate asset base.