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 6 hours getting his car out with a hand winch. He knew there should be an improved way. In response, he invented Maxtrax, a lightweight vehicle-recovery device for bogged off-roaders.
After designing the super-tough nylon product, he attended a Queensland Government business seminar, in which the advisers stressed getting patent protection before his idea was publicised. “Among the first things we did was speak with Inventhelp Caveman to see how you could protect the concept,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It really is now purchased in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets including Australia, Europe and the US, as well as the business also has a trademark on the distinctive original “safety orange” hue it uses for 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 any other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, the general public or even friends. It can be considered 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 be too expensive. “The majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe can be considered 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 any subsequent patent application. That opens the way in which to have an idea or product to be copied. “In Australia and the usa you can take action 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 in the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and anyone 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 uncomplicated, it will probably be copied and you need to 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 have to have the protection of your own IP and, specifically, Invent Help Invention Idea in order to get a good return on the investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe because of complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that can end in potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a brand new unitary patent system that promises as a game changer. This will make it easy to get protection in as much as 26 participating European Union member states with the submission of a 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 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 to 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 just about patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s extremely important with an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. When they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they need to try 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 a amount 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 %), Japan (4.7 percent) and Finland (2.9 %) easily outperform Australia (.3 per cent) on IP royalties.
Your message? As being a general rule, Australian companies are certainly not great at converting research into value and treat IP nearly as an administrative function. The exceptions are health tech leaders, like medical device company Cochlear and sleep-disorder business ResMed, which understand the importance of intangible assets such as logo and data use, and make their briaac around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has turned into a crucial business tool and governing it is not just dependent on organising trademarks and How To Prototype An Invention. 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 such a sentiment. It reveals that 38 percent 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 of the corporate asset base.