Intellectual property can be a crucial business tool, however, 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. “One of the first things we did was talk to Find A Patent Attorney to find out how we could protect the idea,” says McCarthy, who launched Maxtrax in 2005. It is actually now available 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 recommended cruel their chances of success from day one.
Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or some other intellectual property protection before they spruik their idea to investors, people 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), in particular, often neglect safeguarding their IP or think it will likely be 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 making it possible for public disclosure of your invention without affecting the validity of any subsequent patent application. That opens just how for the 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 within the foot; they’ve forfeited their rights and anyone can copy [their idea].” Postma observes that business people often think their idea is just too simple to warrant a patent. “However, if it’s successful and uncomplicated, 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 in the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), which oversees about 160,000 patent applications per year. She recently completed a road trip warning Australian firms that poor patent and IP safeguards could derail their European market opportunities. Companies have to innovate – and protect their inventions. “You have to have the protection of the IP and, particularly, Inventhelp Headquarters in order to acquire a good return on the investment,” she says.
Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe due to complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that can end in potentially high costs and marginal protection. However, the EPO is promoting a whole new unitary patent system that promises to become a game changer. This makes it easy to get protection in as much as 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 opportunities to expand in to the European market, which boasts more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and robust consumer demand. “It’s essential for Australian businesses to understand that there exists a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking only about patents,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s extremely important to have an integrated IP portfolio considering patents and trademarks and (covering) design. If they don’t have (IP) people in-house they need to make an effort to get strategic business advice.”
The need for intangible assets – This call to action for Australian businesses comes as the international Innovation Index 2017 reports on countries’ IP receipts being a portion of total trade. Basically, the measure indicates how a country has been doing on the IP front. While Australia scores well when it comes to inputs into research and development, the usa (5.1 per cent), Japan (4.7 per cent) and Finland (2.9 per cent) easily outperform Australia (.3 percent) on IP royalties.
Your message? Being a general rule, Australian companies are certainly not good at converting research into value and treat IP nearly 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 logo and data use, and build their briaac around it.
In a knowledge-based economy, IP has developed into a crucial business tool and governing it is not just a point of organising trademarks and How To File A Patent With Inventhelp. Intangible assets are rapidly increasingly 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 from the companies’ value (about A$550 billion) will not be included on the balance sheets; this means that that investors are operating without insights into a significant proportion of the corporate asset base.