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 has to 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. “Among the first things we did was speak with I Have An Invention Idea Now What to view how you could protect the concept,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is actually now purchased in about 30 countries worldwide. McCarthy has patents in key markets like Australia, Europe as well as the US, and also the business even offers a trademark on the distinctive original “safety orange” hue it uses of its moulded product. Unlike McCarthy, however, many inventors and businesses with recommended cruel their odds of success from day one.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or 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), specifically, often neglect safeguarding their IP or think it will probably be too costly. “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 permitting public disclosure of your invention without affecting the validity of a subsequent patent application. That opens the way in which for the idea or product to be copied. “In Australia and the usa 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 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 straightforward, it will 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 a year. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian businesses that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies need to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You need the protection of the IP and, in particular, Invention 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 become a game changer. This makes it easy to get protection in up to 26 participating European Union member states with all 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 provides 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 opportunities to expand to the European market, which boasts greater than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and strong 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 very important to get an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. Should they don’t have (IP) individuals-house they need to make an effort to get strategic business advice.”
The value of 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 amount of total trade. Essentially, the measure indicates just how a country is performing on the IP front. While Australia scores well when it comes to inputs into research and development, the united states (5.1 percent), Japan (4.7 per cent) and Finland (2.9 percent) easily outperform Australia (.3 percent) on IP royalties.
The message? Being a general rule, Australian companies are not great 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 significance of intangible assets like brand name and data use, and make their briaac around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has become a crucial business tool and governing it has stopped being just a point of organising trademarks and How To Pitch An Invention Idea To A Company. Intangible assets are rapidly increasingly important than tangible assets and require appropriate consideration.
Overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by Glasshouse Advisory in September 2017, endorses such a sentiment. It reveals that 38 % in the companies’ value (about A$550 billion) is not really included on their own balance sheets; this means that that investors are operating without insights into a significant proportion from the corporate asset base.