SMEs contribute a great deal to the economy of the country and also create jobs, but despite these and many other advantages, they may find it a challenge to enter the market.
Although patent rights and licenses can hamper their entry into the market due to their monopolistic nature, what is sadder on the part of SMEs is that they fail to understand the role they play in the market and as reported elsewhere, “SMEs are failing to recognize the implications of not meeting licensing requirements, with only 56 per cent having a formal licensing policy. According to research by PC World Business (PCWB), 58 percent did not keep records of the software they owned or file license certificates, but 87 percent believed they were compliant.”
While that statement is true about a lot of software licenses which the owner cannot monitor as it gets circulated on millions of computers around the world, one way the SMEs can turn them in their own advantage (remember there are always emails tracking the authenticity of the software you are using) by licensing out a better innovation. There are a number of sectors apart from software pertaining to various technologies that also license out to stay out of infringement of a patent.
SMEs either overlook whether their product falls within the scope of invention of a patented product or live under ignorance of an earlier launch of a similar patented product. And what matters more is to get to the details of the invention in terms of the ‘claims’ of the patents. The claims in a patent describe the invention and if your product falls within the purview of even a single claim, you are infringing the patent! It would be ideal to do a patent search before and see how novel your product is.
You could always approach an Intellectual Property Rights practitioner for advice.
Don’t compromise on the fees for the legal advice, as it will save you a lot more than in a litigation! But this is where the real concerns of the SMEs arise. They believe the fees for the legal services are very high and avoid them until they have a major blow of an infringement allegation from an inventor. But better later than never. It’s time you educate yourself on intellectual property rights in terms of patents and licenses which you can not only use for your own innovative products, but also to avoid any infringement claims.
If you are and SME, don’t take patents and licenses as barriers to enter the market. They must take them as opportunities to make something more innovative to find a place in the market.