Patent strategy – a key part of Sweden’s innovativeness
Sweden has been ranked as the EU innovation leader and retains this top position with several independent institutes. Is this due to ground–breaking research and ingenious inventions, or is it all down to the combination of a traditional manufacturing industry, inventive start-ups and courageous entrepreneurs?
One thing is clear – Swedish industrial companies’ ability to adapt and grasp the value of developing not only hardware, but also software, is a key factor for continuing success.
“There is a strong trend to patent systems and software. This is a natural and necessary development given the transformation and digitalisation of manufacturing and other companies. Now we need new ways of creating commercial value,” says Leif Jörgensson, Senior Partner and European Patent Attorney at Ström & Gulliksson.
A clear link between innovation and regional competitiveness
According to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard presented by the European Commission recently, the commercially most successful regions are typically found in countries that have been recognised as innovative. The report also found a clear link between innovation and regional competitiveness.
“Sweden – not only Stockholm but also Skåne – has been highly ranked as innovative because of major investments in research in these regions, and because the value of patenting achievements is generally well understood. A well-established patent portfolio is often key to enticing investors,” says Leif Jörgensson.
The European Innovation Scoreboard considers changes in political priorities, economic theory and access to new data when adjusting the metrics. Several of the recognised institutes that measure and rank innovativeness weigh in several factors.
“There are several ways of measuring the innovativeness of a country or region, of course. The number of patents considering population size and statistics on research and development investments give some indication, but they don’t give us the full picture. At the same time, it’s difficult to measure and put a figure on the added value of a region’s investments in innovations,” says Leif Jörgensson.
Business Region Skåne is of the opinion that it is the entrepreneurial spirit and the high level of education – combined with the unique location, close to a market of 20 million people – that make Skåne such an obvious choice for investors.
“Although the Öresund region has world-class research and open, cross-industry innovation networks, we have historically also had heavy industries that have been forced to transform from traditional manufacturing to other business models in order to remain competitive,” comments Leif Jörgensson, who has seen an increasing number of Ström & Gulliksson’s clients come to this realisation over the years.
The identification and protection of a company’s software assets require considerable expertise
One of the challenges lies in getting traditional industrial companies focused on manufacturing to consider long-term value and realise that investments and development also include systems and software, not merely physical products.
Björn Andersson is a Senior Partner and a European Patent Attorney at Ström & Gulliksson with specific expertise in software-related patents. He is often contacted when there is a need to highlight and evaluate industrial companies’ innovations related to software.
“Staying on top of and commercialising a company’s software assets can be just as interesting as merely considering its physical assets. Our analyses frequently find that a new innovative concept can be patented not only at the product level but also with respect to the software linked to the product.”
Björn Andersson describes the opportunities in software as follows: According to current European case law, inventions based on software can be patented if they in any way contribute to solving a technical problem or otherwise are of a technical nature. The US and Asia offer similar possibilities.
“You need a highly skilled patent firm to identify and explain an innovative concept in technical and legal terms. If needed, we involve several consultants in a single project,” says Leif Jörgensson, who is highly experienced in working with industrial companies during transitional stages.
“Once we get involved in a project, our role as a patent firm is basically all about helping our clients see and define the level of technical innovation. Our goal is always to create a well-established patent portfolio with the highest possible commercial value.”