Only Half of Dutch Top 10 Innovative Companies file patent

BIZZ, the blog and magazine for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in The Netherlands, published by Reed Business provides a shortlist of the 100 most innovative companies in Holland for 2007, the Innovatie Top 100 (“Innovation Top 100”). We wonder how many of the 10 most innovative companies have filed one or more patents for their invention. The – preliminary results – are at best scanty, at worst: troubling. We checked the data, using the database for the German Patent Office (Depatisnet) and Espacenet (of the EPO).For five out of the ten “most innovative” SMEs in The Netherlands we were unable to find one or more patent filed. If this trend would be true for all of the 100 most innovative companies, only 50% applies for a patent. So basically half of Netherlands most innovative companies simply ignore intellectual property or have decided not to use IP for their companies.Here are the top 10 of BIZZ’s “Most Innovative” SMEs, out of the 100 as published by BIZZ:1. Mampaey Offshore Industries – Dyamic Oval Towing SystemOne patent filed, (“Sleepboot met ovale ring”, inventor Gerard Mampaeij NL1027414)2. Bouwbedrijf Kooi – Het 1-2-3 HuisOne patent filed (by “1-2-3 Huis B.V”) , inventor Jaap Kooi NL10294493. Claves – NovuloNo patents, nor any (published) application4. EVOLVE & Vriezema Betonprodukten – Lichtgewicht betonNo patents, nor any (published) application5. E.V.A .Products – Dieselmotorcycle De TrackNo patents, nor any (published) application6. Wilmink Product Ontwikkeling – Dynamische gehoorbeschermingTwo patent applications (“Gehoorbeschermer”), inventor Engbert Wilmink (originator of the patents is TNO), EP 1682059 and EP 15277617. SENZ Umbrellas – Stormvaste parapluOne (Dutch) patent nr. NL1029225, inventor Gerrit Hoogendoorn, pending applications for other countries8. Van Ruysdael – Isolerend enkelglas voor de restauratieTwo (Dutch) patents NL1020845 and NL1024339, inventor Michel Trompert. One European patent application EP-A-1388413 which is in limbo for years now, does not seem to lead to a patent anytime soon.9. PayDutch – Veilige online koop/verkoop methodeNo patents, nor any (published) application10. LSB Groep – Kunststof steigerplankenNo patents, nor any (published) applicationSo, 50% has a patent, 50% has none. Is the glass half empty or half full? Half empty is the right answer. Remember, we are talking about the best innovations by Dutch SMEs. What does it tell us? A faulty view on what IP can do for your company? Maybe management thought they could keep the product characteristics secret? Isn’t that naïve? Worst of all: all these innovations can be easily copied and used without any compensation to the originators of these innovative ideas. Is that what innovation is all about? Is that where Europe spends millions of euros on, to stimulate new inventive products and services which can be copied by anyone doing some reverse engineering?Netherlands politicians: go do your homework and start thinking how to improve this lack of use of IP and lack of full understanding of what IP can do for the SMEs.Patent professionals: get finally out of your professional cocoons and start telling and educating the politicians and policymakers as well as SMES what patents can do for you.Academic world: start educating the students at (technical) universities what patents are, how they can be strategically used, what the difference is between freedom-to-operate and patents as a strategic tool.Universities and Business Schools: start promoting academic research into the exact role of patent in the innovation process.This should be a wake-up call for all those involved in the innovation process.

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