The importance of Industrial Property for European society and the European economy is well established. For example, the report of the European Industrial Property Office shows that the turnover per employee of companies that file patents is almost 25% higher than those that do not; and for SMEs the benefit rises to 32%.
A patent for an invention or utility model is the most effective way to protect one's own internal innovation activity in the face of aggressive competition. In fact, an invention or utility model patent provides protection of up to 20 years and 10 years from the date of filing, respectively.
A strategy with a good compromise between costs and benefits is to file first of all an Italian patent application which, within a reasonable time, allows to establish a certain date regarding the authorship and ownership of an invention and, at the same time, to benefit from a search and an opinion of patentability by the examiner of the European Patent Office, on commission of the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, in order to identify prior publications relevant to the invention described in the patent application and to verify that the patentability requirements are met (novelty, inventive step, industrial applicability). Subsequently, it is possible to extend the Italian patent application abroad within twelve months of filing, and preferably after receiving the patentability opinion, in order to be able to evaluate with a greater degree of certainty the convenience of proceeding or not. It is also advisable to take advantage of this period to make an informed decision on the countries in which to request exclusivity and, if necessary, to attract financing.
The procedure described concerns the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, but in almost all countries of the world it is possible to obtain registration or patenting by following, in principle, similar procedural steps. In fact, industrial property titles have territorial value, that is, they are valid in the country where registration is obtained.
In any case, there is no standard strategy or procedure for the protection of a product or process, but it is advisable to evaluate from time to time which is the best procedure to undertake depending on the type of product or process, on the commercial strategies to be implemented and on the medium-long term investment forecasts. Given the variety and the specificity of the protection tools that can be adopted, it is important to rely on an expert industrial property consultant, who is able to evaluate the most appropriate solutions on the basis of the specific case and the business strategies to be adopted.
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Author: Valerio Verdecchia, Patent Engineer in Jacobacci & Partners - vverdecchia[at]jacobacci.com
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