SMEs are a backbone for innovation in Europe. However, many SMEs lack a patent strategy – a phenomenon which has received much scrutiny. The European Patent Office has initiated a project to reveal SME patent strategies and document them for learning from best practice. These cases are published in the current issue of les Nouvelles, the Journal of the Licensing Executives Society International (LES). The case studies cover a broad spectrum of different technical fields from medical technology, biotechnology, information and communication to optics, electrical machinery, and machine tools. They not only describe the patent strategies as such, but also give recommendations for IP management. The latest case studies on patent strategies for IoT-based business models published within the scope of the MIPLM are also featured in this volume.

The main finding of these cases studies is that SMEs are quite smart at finding ways to derive business impacts from their patents in addition to them being a costly insurance against potential imitation. The MIPLM case studies show how SMEs can benefit from the dominant trends within a growing Industry 4.0 environment:

  • Digitization and networking
  • Change in value creation networks
  • Individualization of consumer requirements
  • Ubiquitous availability of embedded systems

“Intellectual property, and patents in particular, have been gaining in importance as a strategic instrument within the context of the IoT. In 2016, about 30 percent of all patents filed with the EPO were directly related to ICT (Information and Communication Technology). In addition, the EPO estimates that up to 50 percent of applications in major non-ICT fields such as medical, automotive, or aerospace technologies made in recent years were computer-implemented inventions which qualify as digital patents” (see Wurzer/Grünewald/Fischer/Karl, SME Patent Strategies for IoT-Based Business Models, les Nouvelles, Vol. LII No. 4, 12/2017, 266-273, download).

Please click here to access the journal.