Understand your IP
A House of Commons summit has warned the British car industry – and particularly innovate start-ups – that it needs to understand intellectual property (IP) better if it hopes to succeed in a tough economic climate, claiming that up to 80% of a company's value is in its IP.
Top IP institutions, law firms, universities and business leaders from the automotive industry attended the conference on 24 April hosted by the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) and backed by the leading provider of IP business intelligence solutions and open, online training courses, PatSnap.
The aim of the summit was to encourage attendees to work together to develop policy and support education that will help British businesses harness the benefits of IP to support innovation in order to stay competitive in a global marketplace.
Duncan Clark, director of Academy at Patsnap, said, 'It is a well-known fact that 80% of a company's value is in intangible assets such as IP, but unfortunately many British companies aren't making it part of their business strategy. Instead, they're only learning about IP when it's far too late or when it becomes a legal issue.
'Believe it or not, in countries like China, children of a primary school age learn about business and the importance of intellectual property. In contrast, many university courses don't even include it as module – so the fact is, British businesses are getting left behind.
'The key to all this is education. If we can create policy to help British businesses utilise IP in their strategy from the outset, we will have a strong economic advantage over our competitors. This will be particularly useful to the British automotive industry which needs to find a way to stay afloat when Britain leaves the EU.'
David Wong is senior tech and innovation manager at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, representing the views of the UK's £82bn automotive industry. He said, 'Automotive is often seen as the 'sunset industry' but I beg to differ. I see something more exciting and exhilarating than ever before and IP is the fulcrum of this transformation.'
Stephen Lambert is head of automotive electrification at McLaren Applied Technologies, a leader in the power electronic sector contributing nearly £50bn to the UK economy.
He said, 'In our world, we face rapid development, we have to fix problems quickly and have an innovative mindset. But IP isn't in the average mindset of an engineer because filing patents means you lose your competitive advantage. We need to use IP more to retain our innovation culture and protect what we have.'
John Ogier, chair and convenor of the Finance, Business and Economics Group, IPAN, said, 'IP is based on the power of innovative imagination. The world is changing fast and motoring needs to be reimagined for the 21st century alongside the fifth industrial revolution which has seen the introduction of AI and Globalisation.'
Chris Skidmore, minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, said, 'Britain is a world leader because of IP. It underpins everything we do in the economy itself and is fundamental to this country's success. We need to provide a smooth and effective IP system regardless of Brexit and we need to be prepared for all eventualities, whatever the outcome. IP is not a 'Cinderella' subject in government and we need to work together as one single IP community.'
According to WIPOO, one of the biggest mistakes start-ups make is failing to create a well-thought out IP strategy. For this reason, in 2017 PatSnap launched the first ever free online Academy for R&D organisations, inventors and entrepreneurs to educate themselves about IP and why it needs to be an integral part of their business strategy.
Duncan added, 'Countless start-ups make the fatal mistake of seeing IP as a 'bolt on', with many only coming across it when they're faced with a legal battle. The video-led courses PatSnap runs on the Academy are not about making people legal experts – rather, they educate them on the basics of what they really need to know in order to be able to innovate and commercialise successfully. Unfortunately many start-ups fail because they do not to harness the benefits of IP – so education really is everything.'