The European Patent Office (EPO) recently released “Market success for inventions – Patent commercialization scoreboard: European SMEs”. The report analyses how SMEs commercialise their patents in practice by building upon the results of a sample of European patent applications coming from 1140 European SMEs interviewed in the first half of 2019 and which applied between 2008 and 2018.
The population of patent applications was first divided into two groups according to status: pending patent applications and granted European patents. All published European applications filed after 2008, including those still pending on the 1st of January 2019, were taken into consideration, as well as all European patents granted by the EPO between 2015 and 2017. Within both groups, all the patent applications selected listed an SME originating from one of the 38 EPC (European Patent Convention) contracting states.
The publication shows that an increasing number of SMEs relies on European Patents in order to protect their inventions and that 2/3 of such inventions are commercially exploited. In 2018 one in every five patent applications received was filed by an European SME or individual entrepreneur.
Preventing from imitation is crucial for both big companies and SMEs, but the latter often are not in the position to fully leverage the potential of this protection and exploit their intellectual assets because they face difficulties in overcoming barriers such as i) the identification of the right partners ii) the cost and intricacy of negotiations. This also hinder many companies to fully rank the potential of IP protection to develop and exploit their intellectual advantages.
According to the report the development stage of an invention as well and its commercial potential influence the exploitation of that invention. Small technology businesses, for instance, may use patents to set up licensing or co-operation agreements in order to accelerate IP commercialization. This allows them to leverage their partners’ resources with a view to rapidly scaling up their activities, entering new markets and generating additional revenues from their patented inventions. Licensing is the most frequent form of collaborative exploitation, but almost half of these joint collaboration cases involve a broader form of co-operation: 1/3 of SMEs create spin-offs based on their inventions and only 21% co-operate via cross-licensing.
SMEs which apply for a patent – states the report – are typically driven by innovation and focused on scaling up their activities beyond their domestic market. As a result, they constitute a key driver of economic growth and a priority target for policymakers.
Discover more by reading the publication available at this page.