Intellectual Property for startups

Start-ups

Innovation-rich but cash-poor start-ups can still create an effective intellectual property strategy.

Most startups begin with a technological innovation. They do not usually have the sales and marketing wherewithal of established rivals and can quickly lose their edge if they do not protect their solutions through a solid patent, copyright and trademark strategy.

Many new companies depend on external financing, from sources such as venture capitalists and business angels. Having a good patent portfolio will reassure these investors, who often hesitate to invest in a technology if it can simply be copied freely by rivals and sold without having to cover R&D costs.

But most startups cannot afford the same level of intellectual property protection as companies with deeper pockets. They often have to seek other ways of reducing or at least delaying these costs, without compromising on the level of protection. For example, national or even provisional patent applications are sometimes used rather than filing a European application directly; international (PCT) applications are a way of postponing the costs; and opting for utility models instead of patents may be an alternative.

At P&TS, we made the startup market one of our priorities in 2004. It was a logical decision for our company: we were a startup that grew quickly by making innovation our core business.

Our decision paid off – we are now a key partner for start-ups, as well as for Switzerland’s specialised schools and business incubators that host them. For the past 10 years, P&TS has served as an intellectual property expert for Innosuisse, an initiative of the Swiss government. We also provide a coaching service through Platinn, an entrepreneurs network based in French-speaking Switzerland.

The active involvement of both P&TS and individual staff members in the start-up industry gives us a particular insight into its specific needs – in terms of strategy and convincing investors of the value of intellectual property – without losing sight of the strict budgetary constraints.

We also offer special rates to start-ups sponsored by the organisations and business incubators we work with.

CONTACT

Christophe Saam, European Patent Attorney

Christophe Saam