In March 2017, a new community for startups called Innovation House Finland opened its doors in Otaniemi, Espoo. Boco IP is a member of this community by providing various IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) services for startups. I have had the pleasure of leading the cooperation and thereby been the first contact for many startups in need of advice. Boco IP has participated in all kinds of events, and also arranged a seminar in cooperation with BRIIM Center with the theme Creativity – Innovations – IPR (read more here, in Finnish). The next big event is Space Dust, which is a space related side event to Slush arranged by Innovation House Finland.
Startups as clients
Startups are very different from a patent agency’s traditional clients, such as large industrial companies with IPR experts of their own. Each startup has their specific needs and what matters is usually what they need at that exact moment – strategies that reach far into the future are less important. However, it can be very challenging to startup entrepreneurs to recognize which IPR services are needed and when. Therefore, our approach is to listen to their story and to give our view on which IP matters need attention now, and which can be dealt with later.
One mission for us as a patent agency has become clear; helping startups to understand the importance of taking IPR into account from the very beginning. Startup entrepreneurs often have a million things on their mind and, therefore, it can be difficult to prioritize matters which do not require urgent attention. However, it would be important to remember also the IPR perspective when important business decisions are made to avoid mistakes, which can cause problems later.
There are a number of reasons, why registration of an IPR is worthwhile also for startups or small companies. A study performed by EUIPO sums it up nicely; a large majority of SMEs that have chosen to register their IPRs report positive effects, like increased reputation or improved image of reliability, strengthening of long-term business prospects and increased turnover. In numbers; the majority of SMEs that registered an IPR believed that it had either a ‘very positive’ (13%) or ‘positive’ (47%) impact on their business.
When is a good time to contact a patent agency?
It is actually never too early to contact a patent agency to discuss your business idea. Many startups we have met would have benefitted from discussing IPR matters with us earlier, for example before choosing and investing in the name of their product or service. Therefore, our recommendation to every startup is to contact us at a very early stage. The first meeting is free of charge, so you have nothing to lose. Ideally, the first meeting will be the beginning of a good cooperation, where we can follow the startup on its journey and help in every situation, where IPR needs to be considered.