Intellectual property could 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 by helping cover their a hand winch. He knew there has to be a much better way. Responding, 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. “One of the first things we did was talk with a patent attorney to find out how you could protect the idea,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is now sold in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets such as Australia, Europe as well as the US, and the business even offers 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 chances of success from day one.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or any other Market An Invention Idea 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 vast majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe could be a particular trap for exporters because, unlike some other major markets, it does not have a grace period permitting public disclosure of your invention without affecting the validity of any subsequent patent application. That opens just how for the idea or product to become copied. “In Australia and america that can be done something regarding it, provided you’re in a one-year window – in Europe you can’t, it’s too far gone,” 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 just 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 per year. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian companies that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies must innovate – and protect their inventions. “You need the protection of the IP and, particularly, patent protection to acquire an excellent return on your investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe as a result of complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that can lead to potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a whole new unitary patent system that promises to be a game changer. This will make it possible to get protection in as much as 26 participating European Union member states with all the submission of a single request towards 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 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 possibilities to expand into the European market, which boasts more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and powerful consumer demand. “It’s essential for Australian businesses to know that there is a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking no more than A New Invention,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s extremely important with an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. Should they don’t have (IP) folks-house they should attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The need for intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the worldwide Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts being a percentage of total trade. Basically, the measure indicates how a country is performing on the IP front. While Australia scores well in terms of inputs into research and development, the united states (5.1 %), Japan (4.7 %) and Finland (2.9 %) easily outperform Australia (.3 percent) on IP royalties.
The content? Typically, Australian companies are not good 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 significance of intangible assets including brand name and data use, and make their businesses around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has developed into a crucial business tool and governing it has stopped being only a matter of organising trademarks and patents. Intangible assets are rapidly more and more important than kxwlfd assets and require appropriate consideration.
An overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by How To Sell My Invention Idea To A Company in September 2017, endorses this kind of sentiment. It reveals that 38 per cent of the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) will not be included on their own balance sheets; this indicates that investors are operating without insights right into a significant proportion in the corporate asset base.