The Business Planet team heads to Bucharest to see how one firm has been able to safeguard its intellectual property with EU help.
The rise of global competition and the internet means securing a company’s intellectual property (IP) rights, in order to protect its intangible assets, is now more critical than ever for the success of any business, whatever its size. This is especially true for many European companies that retain their competitive advantage through innovation, creativity and quality rather than on price.
IPR protection – at the heart of the business
The internet of things - a world where devices, gadgets, and machines are all hooked up to the web so they can communicate with us and each other. Syswin Solutions is a specialist in smart technologies. Based in Bucharest, the high-tech SME has put protection of its intellectual property at the core of the business.
“Patenting our products enabled us to authenticate their exclusivity in the Romanian market. This led to an increase in company revenues, as it ensured a guarantee to our customers, in terms of quality and uniqueness,” explains Razvan Ungurelu, General Project Manager at Syswin Solutions.
Sysagria is one of the firm’s high-tech products. The system monitors crops, providing, among other things, real-time data about the weather, water supply, and soil.
To take the product global, Syswin Solutions got in touch with the European IP Helpdesk. The free-of-charge service gives support and advice to entrepreneurs and companies on how to handle and protect their intangible assets.
“The HELPDESK has been helping us to expand internationally, explains Ungurelu, adding: “They’ve been helping us to enter and understand foreign markets. Most importantly, they’ve been helping us to set the commercial value of SYSAGRIA in these markets.”
An investment, not a cost
Evidence shows that firms, especially small companies, which protect their intellectual property have significantly higher turnover and ability to access new markets.
Despite that, only 9 percent of SMEs compared to 40 per cent of big companies in Europe safeguard their IP.
“Essentially, SMEs often consider IP protection like a cost, not like an investment. And secondly, concerning intangible assets, they don’t understand for real that patenting is not the only way to protection, but also copyright or trademark protection is important,” says Professor Alexandru Marin, a European IP Helpdesk Ambassador.
He adds: “Our role (at the European IP Helpdesk) is to help SMEs understand the value of IP. And to help them monetise their IP rights, and if they need support, for example for the enforcement of their IP rights, we can guide them in the right direction.”
Professor Alexandru Marin, is an Ambassador for the European IP Helpdesk, a free-of-charge service which supports and advises European SMEs on how to secure their IP rights.
Why is it important for companies, especially small firms, to manage their IP portfolio correctly?
“It’s important for all companies, organisations to manage their IP correctly because this ensures an increase in quality, of integrity, of being competitive and ensures the capacity to be in the market.”
Are companies that protect their IP more competitive?
“If you care about IP, you can be more competitive. So the connection between IP protection and being competitive is a direct one.....I want to emphasize as much as possible the importance of capitalisation and understanding that this IP protection is not only a cost. It means some costs. It's not easy to do it. If you go international, it costs a lot of money. For example, if you go to several countries in Europe, it might cost about 40,000 euro. But we should see behind [this] the importance of the investment."
How can companies wanting to better protect their IP get in touch with somebody like you?
First of all there is a European help desk, IP Help Desk. Inside the framework of this IP Helpdesk service exists a network of ambassadors. I'm a part of them. In Romania, we have three ambassadors, which cover more or less regionally, the three main important regions in Romania and because of this we can be near to the companies and they have the job to do services for SMEs, especially to increase their knowledge about IP protection and capitalisation.
Intellectual property rights protect intangible assets of firms and allow them to profit from their creations and innovations.
Only 9% of EU SMEs use intellectual property, compared to 40% of large companies. This is often because they do not have the expertise or find protection of their IP too costly.
The European IP Helpdesk helps companies manage and exploit intellectual property. It offers free-of-charge support on IP matters to beneficiaries of EU-funded research projects and EU SMEs involved in transnational partnership agreements.
In addition, three specialized IP helpdesks support European SMEs in China, South-East Asia and Latin America.
European IP Helpdesk Ambassador
European Union Intellectual Property Office Observatory