Offensive - SMEs

How industry sees protection of its intellectual property

Conclusions and proposals for action arising from the Intellectual Property Research Programme sponsored by the Economics & Social Research Council, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Intellectual Property Institute, UK - Four-year study (1996-1999) on over 2500 SMEs by Ron Coleman & David Fishlock -

The patent system gives no help in innovating. It neither fosters nor protects their innovation. The patent system is as best an irrelevancy for small firms. Professor Stuart Macdonald - Management School, University of Sheffield

Defensive aspects of this study

The research programme has established that formal IP regimes are applicable only to a small proportion of business activity, such as large manufacturing companies. A wide variety of information methods of protection are generally more effective for the management of IP in SMEs and in most of the growing service sector.
Most previous research into intellectual property was predicated upon improving a time-honoured system of protection: the patent. This programme concludes that patents are only one method of appropriating valuable knowledge, know-how and confidentially are more important in many commercial sectors.