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GovGrant: Patents should make money for business, not just make people feel good

Luke Hamm, chief executive of innovation tax credit specialist GovGrant, will urge business owners to monetise their intellectual property (IP) and stop treating it like a medal. In a keynote speech to delegates at the start of London IP Week (Monday 10 December), Luke, whose business helps the UK’s most innovative SMEs claim for the government’s ‘Patent Box’ scheme, will accuse policymakers of ‘woefully under-protecting IP,’ calling for bolder policies policy to ensure business and the wider knowledge economy derives full value from inventions.

“We want to encourage IP and patent creation so we need to bring it down to a focused, easily understood that becomes part of regular discussion in management meetings. Far too often, there is a sharp intake of breath when we respond to the question from business owners: ‘so how much is this going to cost?”

Luke believes the focus for the IP debate should turn away from cost to value, and that businesses need to understand what they are paying for. He will say: “Some businesses are very much focused on the academic challenge of IP, and while a patent is a valuable as a badge they tend to lack the commercial drive to monetise the invention.”

He will point out that, SMEs only received £43m of the £950m of government support for IP in 2017. “The companies who have patents at the heart of their strategy benefit and they tend to be large sophisticated businesses, not SMEs.”

“We must change this and seriously promote the benefits of Patent Box for SMEs. This will only happen if we remove the elitism in IP and replace that elitism with good business sense. Ideas and inventions created by smaller companies need to have the same focus as IP for big businesses.”

Post-Brexit, the UK will face a lot more competition from the EU, and so we need to nurture and protect our SME innovation, as they are key to future economic growth. He called for government to take three key steps:

  • We urge the government to support moves to recognise and value intellectual property as an intangible asset on a business’ balance sheet.
  • To deliver more active support for businesses that are granted patents by the Patents Office, especially by providing the resources to defend UK patents against raids from foreign competitors, including litigation funding..
  • Size and money should not come into the ability to hold patents. The government should make the application system open and transparent and widen patent box to other IP mechanisms for SMEs who are less likely to hold patents.
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