IP and SMEs

As awareness of IP spreads amongst SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises), it is time to go beyond the question do “SMEs get IP?”. There are some very successful SMEs around who have used IP to make their businesses work. They have had to come to terms with an IP system which is complex, expensive (particularly from their point of view), and not designed for SMEs.

The biggest influencers on the IP system in C20th were undoubtedly the large corporate players, those companies that could afford to commit time, money and resources to the lobbying, influencing and regime change which was needed to improve the system. Naturally they wanted a system that worked well for them, and the benefits of the improvements to the system were shared by all users, including SMEs. In addition, the support the IP system gave the economy added an impetus that was shared round all users of the system. Even so, at its heart the system was not designed for SMEs, and though modifications have been made to help SMEs, the systems still remain a challenge. Times have changed both for the large corporate players and the SMEs. Today collaboration, open innovation and co-operation are wide spread if not ubiquitous.

Tomorrow the large corporate players will be using the IP that SMEs generate today. The big players want IP which they can use: high quality IP, so, it is in the interest of everyone that SMEs can use the IP system successfully. Well that is at least the theory. Not everyone is convinced, and the big players are likely to feel uneasy about SMEs using te system against them, but that goes, as they say, with the territory. Now it is time to move the debate on and make the IP system work for all companies, big or small.

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