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 should be a better way. In response, 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, where the advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “Among the first things we did was speak with Inventhelp Technology to see the way we 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 like Australia, Europe as well as the US, and also the business also 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 good idea cruel their odds of success from day one.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or any other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the public or even friends. It can 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 likely be too expensive. “The majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe can become a particular trap for exporters because, unlike some other major markets, it does not have a grace period permitting public disclosure of an invention without affecting the validity of the subsequent patent application. That opens just how to have an idea or product to get copied. “In Australia and the United States you can take action about it, 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 inside the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and anyone can copy [their idea].” Postma observes that business owners often think their idea is simply too 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 unitary patent, European and international legal affairs at the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), which oversees about 160,000 patent applications a year. 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 your own IP and, in particular, Inventhelp Invention Service in order to acquire a good return on your own investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe because of complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that can lead to potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a new unitary patent system that promises to become a game changer. This makes it possible to get protection in as much as 26 participating European Union member states using the submission of a single request to the EPO.
A November 2017 EPO study, Patents, Trade and FDI in the European Union, suggests better harmonisation of Europe’s patent system has got 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 chances to expand into the European market, which boasts a lot more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and powerful consumer demand. “It’s very important for Australian businesses to know that there is a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking no more than patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s essential to get an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. If they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they should attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The value of 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 just how a country is performing on the IP front. While Australia scores well with regards to inputs into research and development, the US (5.1 %), Japan (4.7 per cent) and Finland (2.9 percent) easily outperform Australia (.3 %) on IP royalties.
The content? As being a general rule, Australian companies usually are not proficient 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 significance of intangible assets including logo and data use, and make their briaac around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has developed into a crucial business tool and governing it is not just a matter of organising trademarks and Inventhelp George Foreman Commercial. Intangible assets are rapidly increasingly important than tangible assets and require appropriate consideration.
A review of Australia’s top listed companies, released by Glasshouse Advisory in September 2017, endorses this type of sentiment. It reveals that 38 per cent of the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) is not really included on their balance sheets; this suggests that investors are operating without insights in to a significant proportion in the corporate asset base.