New agreement with INPI – protect your innovation!
The Capenergies cluster has signed a new three-year agreement that strengthens its partnership with France’s National Industrial Property Institute (INPI). The aim of this agreement is to encourage cluster members to make better use of their intellectual property (IP) and to harness it to make them more competitive. The actions will focus on raising awareness about IP among business leaders and project initiators and providing them with low-cost access to INPI’s business services.
Q&A with Elisabeth Delalande, PACA Regional Coordinator, INPI
« We’re not trying to get businesses to submit masses of patent applications. Instead, we want to get firms thinking about how to protect themselves against future disputes and how to shore up their business strategy. »
What does INPI do here in the PACA Region?
« At the regional level, INPI’s role is to give innovative SMEs and small businesses information and support on IP matters, so they have a clearer grasp of how to harness the power of IP. It’s our job to explain the risks and challenges associated with IP, as well as the opportunities. »
What strategies do firms deploy, both here in PACA and throughout France? Are lots of firms submitting energy-related patents?
« Nationally, SMEs and mid-sized firms represent 77.4% of all French businesses that have submitted published patent applications to INPI. But individually, firms tend to submit only a handful of applications. Just 28.7% of national patent applications from French businesses, published in 2014, came from SMEs and mid-sized firms. Large firms accounted for 57%. These percentages have remained largely unchanged since 2011. »
« PACA has been third in the rankings by the number of patent applications for several years now, behind Ile-de-France and Rhône-Alpes. The region also has a high proportion of applications from SMEs, which accounted for 42% of applications in 2013, compared with 17% nationally. This reflects the make-up of the region’s business landscape, with fewer large groups than in Ile-de-France for example. »
« It’s hard to give exact figures about renewables because of the way patents are categorised. However, I can say that electronics and electricity are the main themes covered by PACA applications, including connected objects, machines and transport (mechanics, renewables, etc.). »
Why is it so important for business leaders and project initiators to have a solid grasp of IP matters?
« Our observations show that IP knowledge is lacking. Firms tend not to treat IP as a priority.
However, patents limit competition and boost a company’s reputation and standing. Knowing how to manage IP helps firms establish the right balance, especially when working on a joint project as part of a consortium. And companies looking to raise funds can use patents to showcase the value of their innovation. Businesses need to understand why it’s important to have a confidentiality policy to protect their interests. This will help them move into new markets or new countries without losing control of their assets. IP shouldn’t be seen as a cost centre, but rather as a profit centre. It gives firms a way to become more competitive.»
Do firms that have a solid grasp of IP matters have a competitive edge?
« Patent history searches are a good way to detect niche markets and streamline R&D costs. They also help prevent IP infringement and protect against costly legal action. Patents are a useful source of information for business leaders and innovative project initiators. Attending trade fairs, prospecting and building relationships with partners is a good way to glean information. But patents contain confidential details that might not necessarily be available out in the market. Rigorous IP research is a good way to learn about your competitors and streamline your R&D costs from the outset. In my view, IP is an essential decision-making tool for business leaders. »