Good ideas may be rare, but imitators are easy to find. Which makes it all the more important to secure patents for new inventions. Bremen-based InnoWi helps companies and the research community to register new patents, and is also on hand to provide advice and access to funding.
Ursula Mirastschijski is a senior doctor in the plastic surgery department at Bremen-Mitte hospital and an expert in burns. For several years, she has been working on a research project at the University of Bremen into a method for preventing or reducing burn scars. The university has protected this method with international patents that may one day be sold to a pharmaceutical company.
This innovative method is an example of a patent originating in Bremen of which Lieselotte Riegger and Jens Hoheisel are particularly proud. The two directors of Bremen-based InnoWi know the value of registering a patent. “Patents are a yardstick for innovation. Commercially successful ideas are often copied, but patents can provide protection and secure exclusive usage rights for a defined period and a defined geographical area,” says Riegger.
InnoWi helps companies and the research community to register patents and exploit the commercial benefits of their work. As well as evaluating the inventions and assisting with the application and management of the patent, it will also provide advice on monetisation, marketing, finding business partners and initiating licensing negotiations. “We’re here to help, from start to finish,” Riegger adds.
Arranging a patent is a lot more complicated than most people imagine. The initial step of presenting the necessary form at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office is relatively easy, but being granted a patent is an entirely different matter.
“It’s very difficult to achieve a positive outcome without carrying out extensive research beforehand and formulating the patent application in the right way,” says Jens Hoheisel, who worked for the Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics (BIBA) before founding InnoWi in 2002. If a patent already exists, it’s not possible to register another, even if the applicant was unaware of the first one. A patent also has to meet certain formal criteria. You can find out what these are in our article on the 13 most important questions regarding patents.
Reason enough to call on the assistance of professionals, such as Bremen’s patent attorneys or a one-stop shop like InnoWi. The agency not only brings expertise and experience to the table, it also provides access to the German WIPANO funding programme. The programme offers funding for patent applications to companies with up to 250 employees, as long as they have not registered a patent or utility model in the last five years. These funds can be vital, as high costs can be a hindrance, especially for SMEs. Registering a patent in Germany can cost up to €5,000, with international patents easily reaching five figures. And that doesn’t include annual costs. “Most patent applications in Bremen are made by small and medium-sized enterprises, which on average register one to five patents every two to three years. In addition to the assistance we provide to the research community, we aim to boost the number of small companies that take this important step,” says Hoheisel.
Patents are well worth the effort. They protect the company from competition and can generate additional income from licensing or sales. “Good ideas are worth a lot of money,” says Riegger, a biologist who joined InnoWi at Bremen Technology Park in 2008. Businesses need to weigh up whether it is worth applying for a patent, and there are various strategies for doing so. The question of where the patent should apply is also important. “A patent in Germany won’t protect me from imitators and counterfeiters in China,” as Hoheisel puts it. InnoWi can also help with that.
Hoheisel and Riegger live for good ideas. They love dealing with new inventions and preparing them for patent application. “What annoyed me during my career as a scientist was that many good ideas often disappeared into a drawer and were never turned into products. Obtaining a patent allows the public to find out about good ideas. I think that’s very important,” says Hoheisel. Riegger agrees: “We play our part in the successful sharing of technology. Every one of us, whether scientist or entrepreneur, benefits from this.”
InnoWi deals with many different areas of human endeavour, as patents can apply to any field where technology is used. And the number of fields is growing. The patent experts at InnoWi are keen supporters of Ursula Mirastschijski and other projects such as ‘Celluveyor’, a new type of highly flexible conveyor system developed by the BIBA research institute. This project has now spawned a new business in Bremen. Another is the ‘Easy Precision’ project at Bremen’s University of Applied Sciences. The new measuring system it has developed for assuring the quality of optical lenses is now protected by six patents.
In addition to technical patents and utility models, there is also protection for designs. A new platform in Bremen – madeby – helps to protect this intellectual property.
Are you interested in establishing a company at Bremen Technology Park? Please ask Anke Werner, Service for companies and investors, region East, +49 (0) 421 9600-331, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more details.
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