Businesses tend to think of managing their intellectual property (IP) as something they will eventually get around to, not as a priority to protect their innovation or brand. Here’s news: not acting early or failing to safeguard your IP puts your business at risk.

Start-ups and young SMEs are fuelling the growth of Australia’s new economy. One of the key thrusts under the Turnbull Government's National Innovation and Science Agenda is to support and build up SMEs, in particular entrepreneurs and start-ups, because evidence suggests that this group of innovative businesses makes a disproportionately large contribution to the nation’s growth.

Although innovative businesses constitute about 30 per cent of all Australian companies, they account for 60 per cent of the total sales generated. By their very nature, these businesses are also more likely to push for growth, be more profitable, embrace risk and innovate. Risks need to be embraced, but they also need to be managed. If your business starts to gain traction quickly, a strong IP portfolio will be critical to staying for the long haul, profiting from your innovation and safeguarding the future of your business. To launch first and patent later may not be the right approach.

The world’s largest innovators know this too well. Take for example Google’s acquisition of Motorola in 2011. Motorola was worth a total of US$12.4 billion, of which 44 per cent (US$5.5 billion) was attributed to the company’s patents and technology. In 2010, Kraft’s buy-out of Cadbury was valued at US$24.9 billion and 41 per cent (US$10.3 billion) was largely drive by its brands.

To date, approximately 70 per cent of all Australian IP filings originate from SMEs. This number has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years as more businesses innovate and push the boundaries of what we are capable of as a nation, in our traditional industries and as individuals.

Innovation underpins business success. Although we generate some of the world’s most innovative ideas, we stop short when it comes to owning and protecting them and capturing their value – that is the flaw within our innovation system. Safeguarding IP, whether through a patent, trade mark or design, plays a central role if we are gunning for innovation-led growth, especially in effective commercialisation and international trade and expansion.

With our recent website redevelopment and improvements to our core services, we remain committed to assisting young SMEs and start-ups through an efficient IP system, education and awareness activities and value-added services for customers.

This blog was written in conjunction with InnovationAUS.

4 October 2016