WIPO SMEs Newsletter March 2013

April 3, 2013


By the SMEs Section of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO SMEs Newsletter is a monthly e-publication providing readers with useful intellectual property (IP) information contained in articles, case studies, forthcoming IP/SMEs relevant events, and published presentations featured on our web site. We hope you will find it useful and informative. We encourage you to share the newsletter or items of interest with friends and colleagues. For past issues and information on the activities of the SMEs Section, please visit http://www.wipo.int/sme


African Ministers Discuss Innovation and IP at WIPO Conference 

Some twenty African ministers, senior policy makers and entrepreneurs met at a two-day conference in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), on March 12 and 13, 2013 to discuss the role of intellectual property (IP) in stimulating innovation and development.  The conference is also addressing the importance of innovation in dealing with some of today’s most pressing global challenges, such as public health, food security and climate change.  

The conference brings together ministers responsible for IP related matters, ministers for science and technology, heads of IP offices, as well as representatives of research and development (R&D) institutions and innovation centers, entrepreneurs from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), major industrial companies operating in Africa, regional economic communities and regional financial institutions to discuss a wide-ranging agenda on how the continent can best capitalize on IP for promoting innovation. 

Discussion on Innovation and Small to Medium-sized Enterprises at the World Trade Organization (WTO) TRIPS Council  

This is the second time the TRIPS council has discussed innovation, this time with the focus on small to medium-sized enterprises. A number of speakers described how these companies are essential for their economies, providing employment for up to two-thirds of the workforce. Protecting innovation and ideas through intellectual property is important for the companies, they said. 

But governments need to support them in order increase their awareness of intellectual property systems, help them move their products on from development to the market, encourage domestic and international collaboration in innovation, make registering trademarks and patents simpler and cheaper, and help them protect their intellectual property domestically and abroad, speakers said. 

Chile and some other developing countries described how they have introduced programmes to move their economies away from dependence on natural resources to activities based on knowledge. Some countries gave examples of government helping companies protect their new ideas. Japan cited the case of a company that developed a technique for making round fruit square. Australia spoke of a surfer who invented a sling for carrying surfboards.  

Some less developed countries agreed that smaller companies are important for their economies, but added that they are still far from being able to innovate and make money from their ideas. Therefore the importance of intellectual property to these companies differs in countries at different levels of development, they said
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an observer in the TRIPS Council, described some of the organization’s programmes and the findings in economic research on the relationship between the size of enterprise and innovation.
For more details, please click here.

EPO Advisory Board publishes recommendations for improving the patent system 

The EPO's Economic and Scientific Advisory Board (ESAB) has issued a statement with recommendations for improving the patent system, based on the main findings of its 2012 activities. Along with this statement, the ESAB has also published the reports of three workshops it conducted in 2012, namely on patent quality, the role of fees, and patent thickets.  

In these publications the Board highlights the importance of patent quality in boosting innovation. It points out that improving patent quality will require action at both the pre-and post-grant stages of the patenting process. In the pre-grant phase, specific measures are needed to address the speed and quality of patent examination. At the post-grant stage, opposition and re-examination proceedings require improvement, together with the litigation system. On this latter point, the establishment of Europe's Unified Patent Court is expected to make a major contribution.  

In its third study - on patent thickets - the Board clearly states that it does not regard such "thickets" as a root cause of problems in the patent system. It concludes that measures to improve patent quality will help to reduce the complexity of the system and thus deal with patent thickets indirectly.  

At its second annual meeting in January 2013, ESAB members also decided on the three specific policy issues to be addressed in 2013: the economic effects of the unitary patent and the Unified Patent Court, two questions of particular relevance following the recent decisions taken at the EU level, and the possible impact of a grace period in Europe from an economic perspective.  For more information, click here.

USPTO and NIST Release New Version of IP Awareness Assessment Tool  

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) today unveiled an updated beta version of the web-based IP Awareness Assessment Tool, which is designed to help manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent inventors easily assess their knowledge of intellectual property (IP).  

Intellectual property is a key concern of many small businesses owners who often do not know the extent of their IP assets. By assessing their need for IP protection and exercising the rights they hold to their innovations, businesses often secure significant competitive advantages. 

The IP Awareness Assessment Tool enables users to measure and increase their awareness of IP issues, relevant to their creative projects and business goals. Users answer a comprehensive set of questions regarding IP, after which the tool provides a set of training resources tailored to specifically identified needs. The tool is available on USPTO’s website at www.uspto.gov/inventors/assessment/

Resources on IP Asset Management   

4th Annual WIPO- KIPO-KAIST-KIPA Advanced International Certificate Course on IP Asset Management for Business Success Based on the IP PANORAMA TM Multimedia Toolkit in English 

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and the Korea Invention Promotion Association (KIPA) are jointly offering the advanced international certificate course on IP Asset Management for business success based on IP PANORAMA TM Multimedia toolkit in English.  

This course consists of the following three components:  

  • Step 1) Online course;  
  • Step 2) IP essay test; and  
  • Step 3) Offline program.  

The online course will be offered three times, for six weeks per session, all in English and with the assistance of course administrators and tutors through the KIPA e-learning website (http://global.ipacademy.net). It is based on the twelve modules of the English IP PANORAMA as per the following schedule:  

  • Session 1: March 27 to May 7, 2013 (Enrollment: March 7 to 26, 2013) 
  • Session 2: May 1 to June 11, 2013 (Enrollment: April 11 to 25, 2013) 
  • Session 3: June 5 to July 16, 2013 (Enrollment: May 16 to 30, 2013) 

Students who successfully complete a session of the online course with at least 80% of course attendance and a grade of 60% or above in the final exam will be eligible for the IP essay test.  

Up to 10 students from developing countries who are top performers in both the online course (Step1) and the IP essay test (Step 2) will be given an opportunity to participate in the offline program, which is a three-day face-to-face training to learn and discuss some advanced topics and issues on IP asset management. These students will receive a scholarship to cover travel and accommodations in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in November.  

For more details, please see http://www.ippanorama.com/ and http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/multimedia/ippanorama_advanced_certificate_course.html 

General Information on Training of Trainers Program, the SMEs Section, WIPO 

The SMEs Section of WIPO supports the organization of national Training of Trainers (TOT) Programs in countries that have translated and/or adapted the basic materials on IP for Business published by the Section. The objective of the TOTs is to create a critical mass of trainers in the country with enough knowledge and skills to provide assistance to SMEs on effective IP asset management at a basic level. For more details, please see here.

IP PANORAMA TM Multimedia Toolkit  

The IP PANORAMA ™ multimedia toolkit is now available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Hungarian, Vietnamese and Thai versions on or through the pages at http://www.wipo.int/sme/en/multimedia/ and http://www.ippanorama.com/.  

CD-ROMs of the English, Arabic, French and Spanish versions are also available on request. Anyone interested in receiving a free copy of the CD-ROM may email sme@wipo.int providing the full postal address, including telephone number, and indicating the purpose for which the CD-ROM would be used.  Please note that requests without complete postal address will not be processed. 


IP strategy and management at SME’s service 

This case study shows a good example of an SME that has developed efficient IP strategy and management practices. The study puts forward the idea that the pre-condition for successfully carrying out business activities is not only based on the mere knowledge of IP but mainly on the will of the company to properly manage its intangible asset to reap the full benefits from it.  More 

Patent management in entrepreneurial SMEs: A literature review and an empirical study of innovation appropriation, patent propensity, and motives 

Managers make a number of strategic choices when trying to capture returns from innovation investments, including what appropriation strategy to use and whether or not to patent, strategic choices that depend among other things on firm size. Previous literature, being reviewed in this paper, shows that the patent propensity is lower in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) than in large firms and that patenting as means for appropriation is of less importance among SMEs. CEOs and/or R&D managers of 26 entrepreneurial SMEs have been interviewed to explain these differences and to provide insight on how patenting is used in SMEs.   

What is up with the Indian patent scenario?  

Indian pharma has witnessed a number of landmark patent decisions that have far-reaching consequences not only on international players but also on the domestic entities in the Indian market. Read more.  

Intellectual Property Fact Sheet India  

Doing business in India presents both attractive opportunities and challenges. Companies that understand India’s unique regulatory and cultural features and prepare for them tend to stand a far greater chance of success. This fact sheet produced by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and International Enterprise Singapore explains how to manage your IP in India.

Agrifoods: A brief overview of the UK agrifood patent landscape

There are over 3.6m issued patents in the agrifood sector worldwide (approx. 5% of all patents). The most prolific country is the USA, with a quarter of all agrifood issued patents coming from US applicants. German applicants are second with 14%, followed by Chinese applicants with 10%. These top three applicant countries account for almost half (49%) of all agrifood patents. Read more.

Canada: Utility Models, Petty Patents & Innovation Patents: Efficient IP Protection For SMEs

In this article the authors argue that for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patent protection can be complex and costly. And yet, for many of them, patent protection is a must to maintain their competitive edge. A fast and cheap option for protecting mechanical inventions, products, and in some cases compositions, is a utility model, also often called a “petty patent” or “innovation patent”. Read more.

Trade Secrets: A Guidebook for Technical and Business Professionals Involved in Legally Protecting Products Technologies and Services

Trade secrets can be a valuable component of an intellectual property (IP) portfolio, whether as a complement to patents or as an alternative. Companies benefit from an IP portfolio that matches the unique benefits of trade secrets and patents to the types of information they seek to protect. Trade secret protection is available immediately, without going through a government agent, whereas a patent is available only after an application to and approval by the government. And unlike patents, trade secrets provide IP protection of potentially infinite duration. Trade secret protection is also available for a broad array of information for which patents are not available.To download the guidebook, please click here

Revising EU legislation on Trademarks 

On 27 March 2013 the European Commission will adopt proposals to revise the existing EU legislation on trade marks. In order to improve conditions for business to innovate, the Commission considers that it is time for a review of the trademark system in Europe, and for further improvement of cooperation between the EU Trade Marks and Designs Agency and national industrial property offices.  Read more.

Brands, Competition, and the Law 

Brands matter. In modern times, brands and brand management have become a central feature of the modern economy and a staple of business theory and business practice. Contrary to the law’s conception of trademarks, brands are used to indicate far more than source and/or quality. In this article Professor Desai and Waller begin the process of broadening the legal understanding of brands by explaining what brands are and how they function, how trademark and antitrust law have misunderstood brands, and the implications of continuing to ignore the role brands play in business competition.

Adapting brand names for the Chinese market

In this article, Liz Castleman examines the strategies Western companies are using to adapt their names for the Chinese market which consist essentially of three general approaches: transliteration, translation and hybrid. 

The BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2013

The study by WPP’s Millward Brown Optimor examines many of the key issues shaping China’s most valuable brands and the Chinese market.  The study begins with highlights of the extensive data and analysis that’s presented in four sections: Part 1. Trends and Insights; Part 2. The Top 50 Results and Analysis, including the ranking of the 2013 China Top 50 according to their valuation results, and profiles of each of the Top 50 brands; Part 3. Best Practices for Building Brands and Part 4. Resources. 

Forthcoming Events

Creating markets from research results , Munich, May 6 and 7, 2013

The role of universities in national innovation systems has expanded from the production of scientific knowledge for economic growth to include solving largescalechallenges, such as climate change and energy and addressing social needs. Further information on this conference organized by the European Patent Office is available at http://www.epo.org/learning-events/events/conferences/markets.html 


The SMEs Section welcomes voluntary contributions of articles, case studies, news items, useful links and relevant information concerning forthcoming events of interest to entrepreneurs and SMEs for inclusion in future issues of this newsletter; contributions may be sent by email to sme@wipo.int.
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