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 six hours getting his car out with a hand winch. He knew there must be an improved 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. “One of the primary things we did was speak to Inventhelp Patent Referral Services to see how we 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 such as Australia, Europe as well as the US, as well as 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 likelihood 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 become 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 vast majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.
Europe can be considered a particular trap for exporters because, unlike some other major markets, it lacks a grace period allowing for public disclosure of an invention without affecting the validity of a subsequent patent application. That opens the way for the idea or product to become copied. “In Australia and the United States you can do something regarding it, provided you’re within 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 simple to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and uncomplicated, it will 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 on 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 need to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You require the protection of the IP and, specifically, Inventhelp George Foreman Commercial in order to get a good return on your own 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 new unitary patent system that promises to be a game changer. This will make it possible to get protection in up to 26 participating European Union member states using the submission of the 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 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 in to the European market, which boasts a lot more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and robust consumer demand. “It’s very important for Australian businesses to know that there exists a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking just about patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s essential to have an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. Should they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they need to attempt to get strategic business advice.”
The price of intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the worldwide Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts being a portion of total trade. In essence, the measure indicates the way a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well in terms of inputs into research and development, the usa (5.1 %), Japan (4.7 %) and Finland (2.9 percent) easily outperform Australia (.3 %) on IP royalties.
The content? As being a general rule, Australian companies usually are not good 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 value of intangible assets like brand name and data use, and build their briaac around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has become a crucial business tool and governing it is not just dependent on organising trademarks and Market An Invention Idea. 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 percent in the companies’ value (regarding a$550 billion) is not included on their balance sheets; this indicates that investors are operating without insights into a significant proportion in the corporate asset base.