Protection of intellectual property: Focus increasingly on software developments

In an increasingly global world, the protection of intellectual property, in particular technological inventions and software developments, is becoming increasingly important. In this context the IP management, in cooperation with the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), organized the first IP Day in Hamburg in April. Dr. Markus Kähler, Head of IP Management at Tutech Innovation GmbH in Harburg since 2010, announced on the occasion of the premiere that in the future corresponding events will be held once or twice a year for the seven universities and research institutes that are part of the Hamburg Patent Association ("Hamburger Patentbund") .

The focus is increasingly on the question of how inventions and developments can be protected: For Dr. Atillâ Çoksezen, sales manager at Tutech Innovation, the focus is increasingly on developments in the software sector. Tutech Innovation and its sister company Hamburg Innovation concentrate their activities on patent applications, intellectual property rights and patent exploitation, particularly in the field of science. For Dr. Çoksezen, the programming of a source code can also be worth protecting. Today, 80 percent of all patent applications also contain software components. Universities are often the source of new developments. As a rule, professors know when intellectual property rights should be used - especially when inventions eventually become spin-offs, i.e. start-ups that have to assert themselves in the business world. Dr. Çoksezen: "The universities have this in mind and will involve us at an early stage. Often the universities prefinance the intellectual property rights. It is only after the spin-off that a way is found of how the money flows back to the universities."

The more international, the more expensive

Whoever wants to apply for international property rights has to face high costs, as Dr. Kähler explains: "The application of an international property right costs an average of 20,000 to 30,000 Euros in the first three years". Without patent protection there is no possibility of legal action: The property right only enables the owner to obtain a court title at all in the event of third-party use by third parties. The high costs are lapping up because industrial property rights have to be applied for in each country. In Europe there is the European Patent Office, but the individual countries charge additional fees for validation into national law. The EU standard patent is an alternative, but in comparison to the national procedure it is quite expensive - at the end of the day this is an example of arithmetic. From a global perspective, it quickly becomes complicated: The translations of the patent into the respective national language and the involvement of local patent attorneys alone have a major impact. The higher costs usually arise after a few years. In the beginning it's also cheaper: "Anyone who wants to protect an idea in Germany first gets it for 70 euros," says Dr. Kähler.

Two examples for the protection of intellectual property rights by IP management:

  • At the TUHH Process Engineering Department, a team successfully further developed an existing patent and another patent was created. In concrete terms, this involved the optimisation of chemical processes in reactors. The TUHH had financed the patent process, now a spin-off was on the agenda. The invention became Reacnostics, a service provider for process optimisation in reactors.
  • A new detection method for the detection of inflammatory kidney diseases was developed at the UKE and developed to market maturity within nine months together with a company - with the support of Dr. Kähler and his team of nine.

Dr. Kähler's conclusion: "As the ingenious inventor Artur Fischer already put it, inventions from research institutions should serve mankind. We want to help teams of scientists to report even more inventions and make them usable before they are published.

The Hamburg Patent Association ("Hamburger Patentbund") includes the Technical University Hamburg TUHH, the University Hamburg UHH, the University of Applied Sciences Hamburg HAW, the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf UKE, the Helmut Schmidt University HSU as well as the Bernhard Nocht Institute BNITM and the Heinrich Pette Institute HPI.

Text: Wolfgang Becker, Business & People

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