"Small businesses have always been the engine of our economy – creating 65 percent of all new jobs over the past decade and a half – and they must be at the forefront of our recovery,”It is trite to note that most large companies exhibit substantial inertia, and need to work hard to maintain innovative cultures, while many small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) are inherently innovative. Yet in our experience the general level of sophistication of Australian SMEs when it comes to intellectual property management (identification, protection and strategic exploitation) remains, in many cases, alarmingly low.
An antipathy to the legal protection systems (patents, trade marks, industrial designs, copyrights and so forth), or to the costs involved, is no excuse or justification, when competitors in the US and elsewhere have no compunction is using the available IP protection regimes to further their business objectives. It is easy to laugh at the many "crazy" patents granted to individuals and small businesses in the US, but at least those people are filing, in support of their hopes and dreams of turning their innovative ideas into commercial success.
We have just been through an election campaign in Australia, and the major parties were too busy sniping and griping at one another to say anything much that was positive about the contributions to our economy of SMEs. The Labor government should have been behind SMEs, because it was the consistent confidence of Australian business on the back of the government's economic stimulus packages that helped keep us out of recession during the GFC. The conservative opposition should have been right there also, if only because small business is their traditional heartland. Yet anything they did have to say was drowned out by the politics of fear and negativity. "Turn back the boats," Tony Abbott? Not if there are entrepreneurs on board, thank you very much – bring 'em on!
All of which is just background commentary for a pointer to the efforts being made by IP Australia (the government authority incorporating the Patent, Trade Marks and Designs Offices) to educate, inform and encourage innovative small businesses.
On 13 September 2010, IP Australia is participating in an "IP Master Class" as part of the 2010 Small Business Development Conference in Cairns. On 23-24 September IP Australia will have a presence at the My Biz Expo at the the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Further details are available here.
We wish IP Australia all the best for these events, and encourage Australian enterprises, small and large, to take these opportunities, if possible, to learn more about the potential role of IP in their businesses.