SMEs unaware of the value of their intellectual property assets, ICC event hears

  • 23 May 2012
ICC Research and Development

An ICC side event at the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Patents used case studies to demonstrate how the patent system works to support research and development, technology transactions and innovation.

Held during discussions of the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Patents, the session used case studies from a Turkish university as well as Brazilian and German industry.

The session, “Making patents work for economic and technological growth: what is needed?” took place on 21 May and exemplified what small and large companies and universities need in practice to make the patent system work for economic and technological growth.

Thaddeus Burns, Senior Counsel, IP and Technology Policy, General Electric and Vice-Chair of the ICC Commission on Intellectual Property moderated the event, which featured three panellists.

Zeynep Birsel, Director of the Technology Transfer Office at Sabanci University, Turkey outlined the changing science, technology, industry and intellectual property (IP) landscape, and gave examples of how the university had been proactive in responding to the Turkish government’s increasing focus on technology development and commercialization.

“IP is not a legal issue – it is a business issue,” she said. “Companies have to learn to align business and IP strategies. Most small- and medium-sized companies have no idea of the value of their IP assets and how they can protect them.”

Diana de Mello Jungmann, Coordinator of the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry’s (CNI) IP programme said that major developments in the area of IP had been taking place in Brazil over the last three years. IP is the first priority of an innovation agenda developed by leading Brazilian industry executive to boost Brazil’s competiveness and innovation, currently poorly ranked compared to other macroeconomic criteria. Ms de Mello Jungmann explained how CNI and the Brazilian Patent Office (INPI) were jointly working on a pioneering national programme to raise awareness of the role of IP among businesses, students, teachers and journalists, through capacity building and guides.

“The ingredients for technological innovation are brains, information and capital, and the driving forces are a modern and secure legal system, technical skills and investment. Brazil must develop its indigenous capacity for innovation and learn how to protect its inventions and exploit its IP rights,” she said.

Heinz Hammann, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Patents, Boeringher Ingelheim set out a hypothetical case, to demonstrate the importance of a good quality patent – and a company’s confidence in the ownership of it – for investment decisions in pharmaceuticals which could entail hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr Hammann said that the pharmaceutical research and development landscape was changing, with emerging markets taking an increasingly large share.

“Patent protection stimulates investment in innovation,” he said. “All countries have to move towards an innovation economy. It is a waste of a country’s talent if there is no framework or incentive for young people to commercially exploit their inventiveness.”

The panel session was held as part of ICC’s efforts to help business, policy and legal professionals worldwide keep pace with the rapidly evolving intellectual property landscape.

Key developments in the IP policy landscape are also set down in ICC’s practical IP reference tool ICC Intellectual Property Roadmap: Current and Emerging Issues for Business and Policymakers.

Get more information or download a copy of ICC Intellectual Property Roadmap: Current and Emerging Issues for Business and Policymakers.