Companies in the Midlands are protecting their innovation skills by continuing to invest in intellectual property despite the recession, it is claimed.
The focus on IP is helping to sustain investor interest despite the challenging market conditions, according to a think-tank of Midlands IP experts.
According to the group of IP experts from local law firm George Green and IP specialists Withers & Rogers LLP, the recession is contributing to raised interest in IP rights as investors seek to acquire assets which will continue to generate revenue in new or existing markets.
Karl Barnfather, patent attorney at Withers & Rogers LLP, said: “In some instances, distressed businesses in the region are finding that registered IP rights are helping them to attract interest from potential investors and this could prove to be a lifeline for them at a difficult time.
“Buyers are always on the look-out for proven revenue-generators and intangible assets like IP rights are relatively easy to export into new markets and territories.
“Distressed businesses in the region can capitalise on this opportunity by making sure their IP rights are up-to-date and fully protected.”
Despite some concern that raised interest in UK-generated IP could lead to an innovation exodus, experts believe that the outcome is positive for the region. Stephen Wyer, partner and commercial specialist at George Green, said: “There are examples of UK IP rights being lost internationally, but here in the Midlands, Nanjing’s investment at Longbridge, for example, is helping to boost the local economy in a sustainable way.
“Without Rover’s investment in innovation and IP, it would not have been possible to secure a foreign buyer and Longbridge would not be open for business.”
Similarly, when Warwick automotive engineering business Vocis Driveline Controls attracted investment from Italian company Oerlikon Graziano, shortly after being founded, it was decided to continue research and development activity in the UK
. Since then, the company has extended operations and is working on development projects for a variety of OEM and tier one manufacturers.
Mike Everitt, managing director at Vocis Driveline Controls, said: “Our R&D strength is what attracted the interest of our Italian parent company in the first place and we have continued to develop and strengthen our business”
Mr Barnfather added: “All businesses, particularly those that are finding trading conditions difficult, could be doing more to protect their innovation and maximise its value, without necessarily spending more money.”