Brands and Patents: Industrial Property
By: Juan Carlos Artigas
The world of patents, and consequently the world of industrial property, is still being very unknown in Valencian business network. On one hand it is indisputable that the concept R+D is being very well accepted by private and public sectors, where it is recognised that the level of innovation constitutes an important index of economic progress and that industrial property represents one of the most valuable assets in commercial transactions.
However, it seems that it is not recognised enough importance of so essential issues such as the protection or the profitability of the innovation which emerges from our companies. While SMEs usually are the motive force which promotes most innovations in the Valencian Community, sometimes, they do not fully exploit their innovative capacity, as many of them do not know the system of copyright and particularly the advantages which patents offer.
This lack of information is clearly proved with the ignorance of the implicated parties in R+D (Centres of Investigation, Universities, Administrations and private sector) and the tools and mechanisms which put at our disposal the industrial property.
Patents and profitability
Patents are rights which confer to their holders the sole right for exploitation, a monopoly of manufacturing and commercialization in a determinate geographical area during a determinate period. They are tools which help to establish a balance between the innovative interests and the public interests, as the foreseen rewards in the patent system (temporary monopoly and advantageous position in relation to competition) which increase the motivation to keep creating new products and procedures. This kind of reward permits to recoup the inversion in R+D (sole right for exploitation). This is a very important point if we have into account that these inversions can be considerable.
Patents are not just a tool to impede its use to third parties. Nowadays, it is strengthening the idea of making profit through the concession of licences about products, machines or procedures patented, or even through a cession of the patent. Licenses provide incomes to their patent holders and permit to licensers the exploitation of the invention, widening the commercial range of both parts. In these transactions, licensers may introduce improvements or create derived works and develop their own assets of industrial property, which later on can be licensed to third parties. This situation creates a very productive cycle of commercial transactions and inventions.
Another point of interest, for the innovative companies, is the knowledge called “state of technique”, which represents the total existing technology so far in a determinate technical field. The full disclosure of the invention is the compensation that is obtained for the concession of a patent. For this reason, the databases of patents, which are public and accessible, are a rich source of technical information that can be used as long as they do not infringe the patent. The knowledge of this state of technique is not only necessary when product is nearly to be sold (when maybe it is too late), but at the moment to decide inversions in R+D to orient them properly.
Knowing the state of the technique can be decisive to know if a new invention can be patented or not, or to evaluate the risk of infraction of a new product or procedure.