Intellectual property fears consume SMEs » SMEInsider

Intellectual property fears consume SMEs

Small firms are really struggling to protect their ideas and intellectual property, with 25 per cent of SMEs suffering from some form of violation or wrongdoing within the last five years.

According to new research undertaken by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), almost one in three small organisations who own some form of intellectual property rights rely on it for 75 to 100 per cent of their revenue.

The Intellectual property Office has put a number of strategies and tools in place to help SMEs combat intellectual property theft, but the FSB’s research shows that small firms continue to find it difficult to use them. The organisation is calling for ongoing efforts to improve signposting and simplification to encourage take-up of the available support.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB has urged small businesses to gain more support when faced with intellectual property theft.

‘‘The knowledge economy, which runs on innovative ideas and brands, is becoming ever more critical to our economic success. Left unchecked, theft and infringement of ideas, patents and brand costs small businesses and diminishes their appetite to invest in their business, ultimately hampering the UK’s long-term economic growth,’’ explained Allan.

The research also revealed that 32 per cent of firms who took part in the survey said they had spent money on their property rights within the last five years, with one in five of those investing more than £5,000.

‘‘Intellectual property is a fundamental building block if the UK is to become the best country in the world for innovation and creative services. Small businesses must be better supported in harnessing intellectual property in the UK and overseas,’’ continued Allan.

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  • Mike Harvey

    As things stand SMEs CANNOT
    effectively protect their IP. Taking out patents is not only far too costly for
    all but the biggest players, it is also a way of publicising your inventions
    and designs so that others can carefully examine every detail and work out how
    to copy/steal all your hard work without infringing your patent.

    This is obviously not a good state of affairs and needs some
    serious effort on the part of legislators to improve the situation. However…
    No matter how good the law in the UK becomes, the moment your designs
    and ideas move outside of British jurisdiction it’s open season on all your
    hard work, blood sweat & tears and eventually, potential profits.

    At Amalgam.
    we see a lot of inventors, start-ups etc. and my advice to them is always the

    1,Find design/prototyping companies and/or individuals you can meet in person & feel you can trust.

    2, Get NDAs in place from the outset.

    3, Keep your ideas and plans tightly under wraps until well developed.

    4, Design, test, prototype & develop as close to home & with as small a team
    as is practical.

    5, When you do launch do so as loudly and as fast as is possible & in a
    coordinated way – get to market before any would-be competitor has a
    chance to copy you and to establish the idea as “Yours” in the
    eye of the consumer.

    6, Accept that you will be copied in time if your idea is good – but be well
    advanced on the next iteration or follow-up project so that your emulators
    are always one step behind.