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Up to date on: 5.11.2007
Provided by: Finland Board of Patents

From research and development to business

How to commercialise novel solutions resulting from scientific research will emerge as a central issue at universities when the new law on inventions enters into force. Improving business and commercialisation skills will form an essential part of the commercialisation of research-based innovations at research institutions. Technology transfer requires advanced professional operations models, and the use of licensing is becoming more and more important.

A central part of this competence will be adopting the services of the intellectual property (IP) system, which will create prerequisites for a successful commercialisation of research results. A systematic and timely protection of the results will provide a basis for a successful commercialisation process.

An innovation-friendly environment encourages research and development (R&D). The IP protection system plays a key role in such an environment by offering researchers access to powerful competitive means in order to support their R&D activities and marketing. The IP protection system, which covers

-        trade secrets
-        copyrights
-        business names
-        trademarks and design rights
-        utility models and patents,

is a system by means of which you can substantially reduce the risks involved in the commercialisation of new products.

Besides exclusive rights for various time periods, the system offers an enormous opportunity to find information to support your R&D.

Surveys show that as much as 30-50% of the investments in R&D are not well targeted: existing and documented solutions are "created" over and over again. By utilising patent information, this overlapping work can be significantly reduced.

So far, patent information is quite unknown and unused as a source of information in R&D. However, it is superior over other external sources of information, thanks to its extensive and up-to-date contents, and structure.

Patent information includes about 60 million specific descriptions of technical solutions in all technical areas from all over the world. The aim is to have all solutions important to technology and economy protected by an exclusive right, and they can therefore be found in patent specifications. Today, there is excellent and easy access to this information, as the growing store of knowledge is available in electronic form, for instance, through the Internet, both free and in chargeable services that include search opportunities

At an early stage of a research project, it is important to adopt patent information as one of the sources of information to be used. As much as about 80% of all the technological knowledge in the world is never published in other sources of information.

In order to function properly, the market economy system needs a toolkit by means of which it is possible to make your investments in R&D profitable and to point out your marketing efforts. This is exactly how the IPR system works; it gives the inventor an exclusive right for the commercialisation in a certain territory for a specific period of time. The system is encouraging and rewarding; it promotes innovation and serves the common interests by making the results of technological progress available to everybody worldwide at an early stage of protection.

The IPR system as a whole provides both protection and a source of information, by means of which a researcher can

  • better direct its R&D investments and avoid re-inventing the wheel
  • find good technological solutions and methods in all technological areas
  • speed up the R&D process
  • get the R&D work results protected
  • decrease the financier’s risk
  • get information on the competitive situation
  • find licensing opportunities or co-operative partners
  • avoid infringing others' rights 

A great challenge faced by our national competitiveness is how well the different actors in innovation will succeed in expanding the use of the system by increasing the awareness of IP rights and by improving the services that encourage the active use of IP protection and the information available.

Researchers and research groups will also face a challenge. For their part, an effective control and protection of know-how and knowledge requires increasing awareness, as well as the development and introduction of good practices at universities.

 

Mika Waris
Director of Marketing
National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland