Over the past decade, the valuation and monetisation of intellectual property have become ever more important. In the past, the approach to these matters was mainly defensive, when liquidity problems led companies to look for things they could readily sell, including immaterial assets. Latterly, however, the management of patent portfolios has become increasingly dynamic, with the use of licensing and mortgages, as IP owners come to realise the dormant potential of patented technology.
A recent conference gave me the opportunity to present the main features of the patent system to an audience of fund managers and bank representatives wanting to know more about IP in general and patents in particular. The topic attracted a great deal of interest. While patents are not a guarantee of economic success, they can be a very useful indicator of a company’s potential value. This applies in particular to SMEs, and all the more so to start-ups, which often lack tangible assets to secure a loan request. A recent study commissioned by the UK IP Office (“Banking on IP? The role of intellectual property and intangible assets in facilitating business finance”, December 2013) draws some very interesting conclusions about the huge benefits that remain untapped in this field, mainly because of the lack of information and understanding between the worlds of IP and finance.
A patent office has no role in assessing the economic potential of a patent or patent application, which in my view requires specific skills and experience better found among practitioners in the private sector. Economic appraisal could also interfere in the examination process and affect the equal treatment of users of the patent system. However, by improving the quality of the granted patent, a patent office can certainly help right-holders to build trust in the soundness of their intellectual property and thereby to obtain financing. The EPO also provides access to a vast stock of data that can be used for valuation or for macroeconomic research, as in the study recently conducted with OHIM on the economic impact of IP in the EU.
In recent years, European governments have repeatedly insisted on the importance of building an innovation-friendly environment in our knowledge-based economy. To this end, IP valuation is an area offering scope for real progress.
The EPO filing figures for 2013 were published last week. Although they remain preliminary – largely because of the 2013 PCT applications which have yet to reach us -, the main trends are clearly apparent. First, for the fourth year in a row, the filings total increased (+2.8%), reaching yet another peak (265 000). However, […]
Less than a year after the entry into force of the EU Regulations on unitary patent protection and the signing of the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), it is gratifying to see the steady progress in the preparation and implementation of these two major projects for the benefit of inventors and industry in […]
The cooperation between the EPO and the patent office of China (SIPO) dates back almost 30 years, to the signing of the first cooperation agreement in 1985. The bilateral Heads meeting held last week in Beijing was a further example of the longstanding and excellent relations between our two Offices. Reviewing our recent cooperation activities, […]
The EPO has long seen the need to respond to the globalisation of the patent process, reflected in the ever-increasing proportion of patents filed in multiple offices and in the growing geographical diversity of prior art. The IP5 has addressed these issues by developing systems that allow examiners to benefit from the regional and linguistic […]
Last week, in Brussels, the EPO and OHIM held a joint seminar on the essentials of IP for EU officials. I was delighted to see that this event attracted some 130 participants, from the EU institutions, national governments and IP offices, indicating the strong awareness within the European policy-making community of the crucial role of […]
On 25 and 26 October the European Patent Academy‘s European Judges Forum was held at Venice International University on the island of San Servolo. This forum, launched in 2005 and organised in co-operation with the Intellectual Property Judges Association (IPJA) and the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW), brings together a large number of judges and […]
Last week, I attended the EPO Patent Information Conference, hosted this year by the city of Bologna, which, as an industrial, academic and cultural centre that has nurtured so many innovative minds, was the perfect location for a headline conference dealing with the dissemination of technical knowledge. This year’s event drew some 400 patent information […]
Last week, on 17 October, the EPO marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the European Patent Convention, which took place in Munich on 5 October 1973. I had the pleasure of welcoming many guests from all over the world, in particular from Europe, the US and Asia. Among those attending the events organised […]
Last week in Brussels, at a press conference with Commissioner Michel Barnier and OHIM President António Campinos, I had the pleasure of presenting an EPO/OHIM joint study on the economic impact of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the EU. The study has a pioneering significance. Although some research has already been done on specific IP […]