Companies consider patents too late

Patenting is increasingly becoming a competitive parameter for Danish and other companies. However, many start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises do not prioritise IP rights, and this can destroy business models and have a negative effect on their ability to attract new investors, says CEO at Plougmann Vingtoft Finn Strøm Madsen.

“Lack of patenting knowledge can destroy an otherwise very promising business model; it can compromise the interest of potential new investors; and at worst, it can lead to massive lawsuits and expensive legal proceedings around the world.”

So says CEO Finn Strøm Madsen at Plougmann Vingtoft, one of the leading consulting companies in Scandinavia in the field of Intellectual Property Rights (IP Rights).

Nonetheless, Plougmann Vingtoft has noted a worrying tendency for many start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, to downgrade patenting advice or wait until the last minute – sometimes resulting in planned product launches having to be postponed or scrubbed altogether. Therefore, Finn Strøm Madsen encourages SMEs to seek advice on patenting before investing in research and development, production, sales and marketing.

“Every week, we receive inquiries from companies who wish to protect their inventions and technologies, and from companies faced with the challenge of counterfeit products in the markets in which they operate. Both groups of companies are often far too late in getting an overview of their opportunities in the market and their risk of violating the rights of others,” says Finn Strøm Madsen.

Mogens Baltsen, Head of Section at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, agrees that patenting and IP rights often enter the SMEs’ agendas late in the game.

We see a great many small enterprises and start-ups who are not sufficiently aware of the need to protect their technologies, trademarks or design rights. It is a great advantage if you realise from the outset the need to be aware of, focused on and ready to protect your IP rights,

Mogens Baltsen, Head of Section at Danish Patent- and Trademark Office 

The myth that it is expensive and slow

According to Finn Strøm Madsen, companies wait until late in the process to seek out Plougmann Vingtoft or other experts on IP rights due to a pervasive misunderstanding.

“There is still a widespread myth that patenting is extremely expensive and time-consuming, but it couldn’t be more wrong. Unfortunately, the belief is strong and becomes a barrier for many start-ups and small businesses, who do not understand the true value of their ideas,” says Finn Strøm Madsen.

To bust the myth – and to underline the importance of Danish inventions and IP rights being protected in the best possible way – Plougmann Vingtoft’s experts teach at investment events and at the universities of Denmark among other places.

In addition, Plougmann Vingtoft encourages start-ups to make use of their offer of a free, non-binding interview with an IP advisor, who can assess the specific idea or technology and point the company in the right direction. This allows IP concerns to be implemented into the business strategy from the start.

Bring your patents to the party

Finn Strøm Madsen stresses that the tendency to consider IP rights late in the process is not just a problem for Danish companies.

“I view this as a European problem, and Denmark and the other European countries need to be careful if they are not to be outdone in a field that is developing extremely fast. In recent years, about two-thirds of all patent applications have come from Asia, and nearly half, 45 percent, have come from China alone. But rather than pointing the finger at China, I would say that Europe need to step up their IP game,” urges Plougmann Vingtoft’s CEO.

According to Mogens Baltsen, patents are becoming an increasingly important competitive parameter for companies in the global market.

“We are currently seeing an increase in patents, not just for Danish companies, but a global trend fluctuating between two to four percent per year. Especially in the field of technology, there is considerable competition, including in telecommunications, computing, artificial intelligence and Blockchain technology, but currently also in biotechnology and vaccines. For those wishing to compete in the technology market, bringing your patent rights is becoming increasingly crucial when – in popular terms – you knock on the door of the “party”,” says Mogens Baltsen.

This article was originally published by Business Insights