February 20, 2019

Ignore intellectual property at your peril

Jaana Rantanen

Chief Advisor at Business Finland

Intellectual property (IP) pops up every now and then in the news: Nokia licensing out valuable patents or McDonald’s losing its Big Mac trademark, for example. Yet, most of us think IPs don’t have any role in our daily life. I remember one venture capitalist saying 10 years ago that “intellectual property rights is not interesting because it isn’t sexy”.

Sexy or not, we should be more aware of IPs. Studies show that 80 per cent of the value of a typical business is intangible. A strong IP is now more important than ever and is a huge part of business growth.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s statistics show that innovators around the world filed 3.17 million patent applications in 2017. The amount has been growing for the last eight years. China was number one in filings with a share of 43 per cent. Given that there were already 137 million patents in force in 2017, one should contemplate what this means for businesses.

In my experience, there are too many SME companies and researchers who know very little, if anything, about IP matters in business. And they all want to go global where competitors are waiting for the easy prey.

Sexy or not, we should be more aware of IPs.

There are four points businesses should understand about IPs:

  • IP databases contain valuable information about state of the art and competitors
  • With IP rights one can protect R&D results against competitors
  • Ignoring IP is a risk to the business
  • Using IP as a part of business is an opportunity

How to help businesses understand these matters? There are already tools available for making preliminary searches about how a customer’s IP situation looks like. The results of these make it easy to see how it effects their business strategy and plans.

Businesses can then know whether they have the green light to operate in global markets before any leg work has been done, and can tweak their formula accordingly in order to maximise their potential impact in future.

 

Good News from Finland is published by Finnfacts, which is part of Business Finland.

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