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Intellectual property can be quite a crucial business tool, however, not everyone thinks with enough concentration about protecting their big ideas. In 2001, plumber Brad McCarthy got stuck on the 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 should be a better way. In reaction, 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 talk to a patent attorney to see how we 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 including Australia, Europe as well as the US, and the business also 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 the first day.

Their big mistake? Ignoring patents or any other Famous Inventors 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 expensive. “The majority of protectable IP goes unprotected,” he says.

Europe can be a particular trap for exporters because, unlike a few other major markets, it does not have 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 an idea or product to get copied. “In Australia and america that can be done something regarding it, provided you’re inside a one-year window – in Europe you can’t, it’s too far gone,” 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 people often think their idea is too very easy 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 at the Munich-based European Patent Office (EPO), which oversees about 160,000 patent applications annually. 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 your IP and, specifically, patent protection to get an excellent return on the investment,” she says.

Many international businesses have baulked at exporting to Europe due to complex patent processes across multiple jurisdictions that may result in 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 possible to get protection in as much as 26 participating European Union member states with the submission of any 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 provides the potential 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 a lot more than 500 million people, high gross domestic product and robust consumer demand. “It’s very important for Australian businesses to comprehend that there is a big change ahead in Europe. I’m not talking only about Inventhelp Innovation,” Fröhlinger says. “It’s essential to get 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 as a amount of total trade. Essentially, 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 per cent) and Finland (2.9 per cent) easily outperform Australia (.3 per cent) on IP royalties.

Your message? As a general rule, Australian companies usually 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 such as brand name and data use, and make their businesses around it.

In a knowledge-based economy, IP has turned into a crucial business tool and governing it is not just a matter of organising trademarks and patents. Intangible assets are rapidly more and more important than kxwlfd assets and require appropriate consideration.

Overview of Australia’s top listed companies, released by Mom Inventors in September 2017, endorses this type of sentiment. It reveals that 38 percent of the companies’ value (in regards to a$550 billion) is not included on their balance sheets; this suggests that investors are operating without insights in to a significant proportion from the corporate asset base.

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