Typically an SME will fall into one of the lifecycle stages outlined below. Each stage has very different needs and IP requirements. We work with clients at each of these stages and are experienced in advising and building the right package of advice and IP rights to meet your business needs. Whether you're just starting out and preparing to covert a strong idea into an investable concept, looking for initial growth and scale or in the expansion or maturity stage, we can help you with your IP objectives.
Each of these stages has very different needs and will require different types of advice. We tailor our services to the development stage you are at and work with you to maximise your IP at each stage of your business lifecycle. No one size fits all and every client is different so you will have a tailored team and aproach, but you can be confident the challenges you're facing we have dealt with many times.
SMEs aren't making the most of their IP
We recently conducted some new research with YouGov to mark International IP Day on 26th April, the 2021 theme for which was SMEs. The survey of small and medium businesses (SMEs) in the UK (1-249 employees) found that only 21% of SMEs have taken steps to fully protect their intellectual property (IP) assets. The survey, of 436 SME decision makers, found that a further 22% have protected their intellectual property assets in part and, of the remaining respondents, 10% did not know whether their business was protecting its IP assets, and 21% did not think that they produced any IP assets at all.
This poll demonstrates that many UK SMEs are left exposed when it comes to their intellectual property assets. Intellectual property should be a core asset to any business. This is for both traditional protection of market position, but also for demonstrating innovation and branding. The ability to provide evidence can be crucial when seeking investment or acquisition, with many investors being acutely aware of the uses and importance of IP assets. Without careful consideration of IP, SMEs risk losing out to competitors on one hand, and losing out on investment and growth opportunities on the other.
Mewburn Ellis’ recently released Special Report, the IP Guide for SMEs which looks at the survey data in more detail, along with IP considerations for SMEs at all stages of their life cycle.
Five Reasons Why Forward-Looking SMEs Prioritise IP
1. It will lock out the competition
IP will stop your competitors from making use of your intangible assets such as your technology, designs or brands and may well steer them towards less well protected alternatives
2. It will enable you to charge a premium
IP gives you the ability to monopolise and exclude other people from your technology, design or brand enabling you to charge a premium price
3. It will make you more attractive to partners & investors
IP provides reassurance to investors and other potential partners that their investment won’t be impacted by competitors and they should be able to maximise their return
4. It will generate additional value & support revenue
IP will increase the value of your business and can also be used as a source of new revenue streams such as through licensing for example
5. It’s a tool for negotiation
IP is a useful tool as part of negotiations and can be used to help resolve issues. For example Freedom to Operate (FTO) issues can often be resolved with commercial agreements of there is an IP portfolio in place.
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises are the lifeblood of our economy and research suggests that high growth SMEs are typically those that invest in intellectual assets.
At Mewburn Ellis we work with SMEs from all over the world and from a diverse range of sectors. What they all have in common is a desire to work with a trusted, strategic advisor and with needing their help to build an IP portfolio to secure and drive the growth of their businesses.
Intellectual property (IP) should be seen as a power tool for economic growth and a valuable business asset. SMEs are often the driving force behind new products, brands and creative designs, but many of them are not aware of the IP system and aren’t fully exploiting their innovative capacity. IP rights are also important as they may enhance the value of an SME in the eyes of investors and financing institutions.
SMEs that apply for patents, trade marks or designs are more likely to experience high growth than SMEs that do not, according to a joint study by the EPO and the EUIPO*. The chance of an SME becoming a high growth firm increases by 33% if it uses "bundles" of trade marks, patents and designs, instead of one single IP right category. When left unprotected, a good invention/creation may be lost to larger competitors that are in a better position to commercialise the product or service at a more affordable price, leaving the original inventor or creator without any financial benefit or reward. SMEs face many challenges, not least the more recent issues that Coronavirus has brought. Now more than ever, SMEs need to be forward looking in the context of their IP and need a trusted partner that can support them as a strategic advisor and work as part of their team to help proactively navigate what can be a challenging area of law.
* Source: EPO Publication High-growth firms and intellectual property rights: the IPR profile of high-potential SMEs in Europe