IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to the market
One more year comes, and it is already 26 April, also known as the Intellectual Property day, as established by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) two decades ago. This year, under the motto “IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market”, WIPO asked all involved parties to shine a light on the critical role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the economy and how they can use intellectual property (IP) rights to build stronger, more competitive and resilient businesses.
One thing is to know from us what you need to know about what to do with your business ideas, and why it is important that you protect them through Intellectual Property means before entering any new market like Latin American Countries but, how about we give the voice this time to some SMEs who have made use of the Latin International IP SME Helpdesk?
Let’s start with a very good example
It was recently that we came across the CEO/CTO and Co-Founder of eniferBio, Simo Ellilä. This company is a living example on how to do things right. Just after 8 months of existence of the company, they protected their trade mark in Finland: “one of the first things you do as a company is register your trade mark, and that is what we did. We began registering our trade mark in Finland, and then we could begin expanding the registration of the trade mark to relevant markets. We checked which ones were interesting to us, and we noticed that when looking into Latin America, not all the countries belong to the so-called Madrid Agreement”.
As a Small company, it is always difficult to work with this kind of struggles, and that is when they contacted the IP Helpdesk for free-assistance.
In accordance with Mr Ellilä, in the biotech field it is all about Intellectual property: “we are a technology company, and what we do is develop technology, which in the future we would like to license, and it is essential to our business model. If we are going to license any device, then that is something we need to have protected with IP”
Moreover, the company co-founder believes that IP helps startups to raise their value, and to get more funds that is always in need for companies willing to expand their business to other countries and regions.
Learning about the importance of Intellectual Property
IP EU-funded projects have education and raising awareness as major goals. It is by providing technical information, best practices, case studies and a space to network with colleagues from various regions that IP knowledge can be acquired and shared.
IP Key LA works closely with national IP offices and other institutions to reach local audiences and enhance IP systems. Recently, the project has embarked in a series of exclusive IP Economic Impact studies in several Latin American countries. Those showcase the economic importance of IP intensive industries and which productive areas are benefiting the most from IP protection.
The IP SME Helpdesk offers a variety of exclusive IP webinars that provide practical, straight-forward information for EU SMEs. These IP webinars can be either country specific or regional and they are also focused on IP matters in different business sectors.
It was at one of this IP webinars where Mr Torsten Seeger, Director and Founder of Consult to see, learned a little bit more about how to make the best of his brand: what can be protected as a trade mark, how parts of their business (consulting) method or information from their homepage could be protected with IP, and other trade mark issues that may arise from expanding their business into other countries. With all the information in hand, Mr Seeger contacted his IP lawyer to register the trade mark.
It is key that if you are an EU SME willing to enter a new market and be recognised in the market by clients and third parties, first protect your company’s name as a trade mark, like Mr Seeger did: “as soon as my brand becomes more recognised and known, there is the danger of others misusing it. The people from the IP Helpdesk made it very easy to understand all the possibilities we had with our brand.”
IP protection at Trade Fairs
At raising-awareness events, we usually bring life examples of EU SMEs and their experience with Intellectual Property protection in foreign markets with sessions like the European SMEs testimonials. At this event, Guy Desseaux, managing director of “Papermints”, showed participants visual examples on how Chinese companies had been copying their product, and how he was finding his product counterfeited with the same logo and name in the internet and at trade fairs like the Internationale Süsswarenmesse ISM. Since the company had their brand protected as a trade mark, he just had to contact the conference organiser, and the counterfeits were taken out of the Messe by the police, right away.
With the good experience they had at the trade fair, this company contacted the Latin America IP SME Helpdesk in order to access the Mexican market and protect their trade mark. In the words of Mr Desseaux: “the Helpdesk analysed in two days, for free, whether we could protect our trade mark there. The Helpdesk helped us to analyse the market and provided us with a strategy on how to protect it in a cost-efficient way”.
Identify your key Intellectual Property assets (trade marks, patents, industrial designs) and register them in the respective country as soon as possible. The basic rule is that unless the right in question is registered in a specific country, it will not be enforceable there.
EU-funded projects, such as IP Key Latin America and the Latin America IP SME Helpdesk, seek to generate this approach, either through training and education or through direct guidance and advice, respectively. Sometimes, they design joint initiatives bringing together relevant information, data and best practices to meet the initial needs of SMEs that are beginning to consider asset protection.
An example of these initiatives has been successfully registered and is available for SMEs in Europe and Latin America at:
- IP Protection in Brazil for EU SMEs – General Landscape
- IP Protection in Chile for EU SMEs – General Landscape
- IP Protection in Mexico for EU SMEs – General Landscape – (with Spanish subtitles)
- IP Protection in Argentina for EU SMEs – General Landscape.