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WIPO Examines Initiative To Increase IP Awareness Amongst SMEs

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

17 September 2007

The fifth annual WIPO Forum on Intellectual Property (IP) and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) for IP Offices and other relevant institutions in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), met in Geneva on Thursday and Friday.

The forum urged the World Intellectual Property Organization to continue and expand its awareness raising and capacity building on IP for entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises, and also requested that WIPO enlarge its focus to include business aspects of IP for students following courses in a range of disciplines, including, IP law, business, engineering, and technology management.

Addressing participants, Sherif Saadallah, Executive Director of WIPO’s Office of Strategic Use of Intellectual Property for Development, suggested that “mastering the ability to effectively use the IP system is … a key priority if private sector driven economic development is to be ensured. In today’s economic and trade environment, it is obvious that business development and competitiveness will be linked to the ability of entrepreneurs to acquire, manage and exploit their intangible assets which are increasingly dependent on the tools provided by the IP system.”

Mr Saadallah added that raising awareness and understanding of the IP system’s potential to boost business competitiveness was one of the prime objectives of WIPO and the Forum. He pointed to the need to develop active partnerships with those who deal on a daily basis with SMEs and other innovative stakeholders.

Micro-enterprises and SMEs represent over 90% of enterprises in most OECD countries. These companies are highly innovative and contribute to national economic growth through substantial job creation, investment and exports. In spite of this, the potential of the IP system to enhance commercial competitiveness is still typically poorly understood.

The Forum was attended by representatives from 30 countries and over 50 institutions from a range of sectors, including representatives of IP offices and innovation related institutions responsible for promoting IP usage among the micro-enterprise and SME community.

Discussions were organized around four themes, namely, IP rights, entrepreneurship, start ups, spin offs and SMEs, reducing barriers; marketing activities and services of IP offices and innovation related institutions on effective IP asset management for improved competitions of business and industry; outreach and support programs on IP and financing; violation of IP rights and concluded with a roundtable discussion.

Participants emphasized the importance of using intangible assets as collateral for financial transactions, and called on WIPO to intensify efforts to raise IP awareness among concerned actors, namely, banks, financial institutions, business angels, venture and seed capitalists. Discussions also focused on the relevance of patent information, patent search services and tools, and infringement of IP rights in the daily business activities of SMEs.

TAGS: Italy

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