Global Indigestion for SMEs

It is enough to give a CEO heartache, palpitations, and put them of their food.  You take the had won money from a group of bearish investors, spend it wisely, are beginning to increase turnover, profits are in sight, and someone steals your whole company,  An impossible nightmare?  Well not for today’s internet based businesses, particular the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which are the driver for so much critical innovation.

Take the case of Lingo24 as reported by the BBC.  A whole website stolen, even down to the names of the employees.  According to the BBC the company seems resigned to their situation, seeing little realistic advantage in pursuing the Chinese company behind the “theft”.  You can see why the price pursuit and the odds of victory are not attractive, particular to an SME. So, is it end of story?  Do SMEs face an inevitable and unavoidable threat from the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China)?

Although the Lingo24 case is extreme, there is a general challenge to SMEs with a limited or local presence.  At first sight, the question might seem to be how to stop the sort of attack that happened to Lingo24.  In fact, that is a defensive, after the fact, view point.  The challenge facing SMEs is how to take advantage of global opportunities, how to capitalise on that IP they have been so busy creating, and that is where that hard won investment money is going into, IP. How then do you, an earth bound SME running on air, have a global IP strategy?

An example of a way round the global IP challenge is the approach taken by Burdica Biomed (REF).  They turned threat into opportunity and forged an alliance with a Chinese company.  Ready availability of capital and loose operating environments does make BRIC countries a potential threat to SMEs, but it also creates opportunities.  Opportunites for collaboration, partnership, even merger or sale.  Dealing with the IP systems of BRIC countries can be challenging for outsiders, but business sense is global.  Thinking around and thinking ahead, and combining “business” and “IP” strategies can help a lot of problems not happen. It might even save your company from being stolen.

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