Are entrepreneurs and small businesses ready to celebrate April 26? It’s World Intellectual Property Day. Why is this day important to small business?
This year’s theme is “Designing the Future.” It’s noted in a statement from WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization): “This year’s World Intellectual Property Day on April 26 celebrates the role of design in the marketplace, in society and in shaping the innovations of the future… The intellectual property system encourages designers to produce attractive items that are easier, more comfortable and safer to use, by helping to protect original designs against unauthorized copying and imitation. In international markets, companies need to be able to protect their designs quickly and cost-effectively in several countries.”
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry added: “Design is where form meets function. It determines the look and feel of the products we use each day – from everyday household items to the latest tablet computers. Design marries the practical with the pleasing. It brings style to innovation.”
In terms of protecting IP, it is small and mid-size firms that benefit most.
WIPO points out: “New products, brands and creative designs appear almost daily on the market and are the result of continuous human innovation and creativity. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are often the driving force behind such innovations.”
WIPO stresses how important it is for small and mid-size businesses to protect their IP, noting: “If left unprotected, a good invention or creation may be lost to larger competitors that are in a better position to commercialize the product or service at a more affordable price, leaving the original inventor or creator without any financial benefit or reward. Adequate protection of a company's intellectual property is a crucial step in deterring potential infringement and in turning ideas into business assets with a real market value.”
Indeed, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office points out the annual costs of IP theft are estimated at $250 billion and 750,000 jobs. On small enterprises, the USPTO points out: “Small businesses often find themselves at a particular disadvantage because they often lack the resources and expertise available to larger corporations. Small businesses also often lack the familiarity with the process of protecting their intellectual property: research conducted in Spring 2005 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) indicates that only 15 percent of small businesses that do business overseas are aware that their IP protection in the U.S. does not travel - that is, that a U.S. patent or trademark provides protection only in the United States.”
It is crucial that entrepreneurs and smaller firms understand how IP protections work, and how they can be used for their own ventures.
Small business owners can find help at the websites of both WIPO and the USPTO.
The USPTO’s “Small Business Education Campaign” page can be found by clicking here.
WIPO’s “Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises” page can be accessed here.
Why not use World Intellectual Property Day 2011 on April 26 to fully explore and utilize IP protections for your business?
Raymond J. Keating, Chief Economist