In early February, we’ve learned that Portugal is now part of the group of countries called strong Innovators, (occupying the 12th position) according to the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS), after a decade integrating the group of moderate Innovators.


As a matter of fact, and bearing in mind the challenges experienced in 2020, it seems clear that innovation has not stopped in Portugal, which is an excellent indicator of the resilience and ambition of Portuguese SMEs. According to data made public, as regards national protection of Patents, a total of 1124 Patent and Utility Model Applications was reached in 2020, which translates into a 16.5% growth when compared to the previous year.


Furthermore, the number of international Patent applications originating in Portugal has also increased by 25.5%, which demonstrates the clear intention of Portuguese SMEs to expand and globalize. Contrastingly, with regard to Trademarks and other distinguishing signs of commerce, 21426 Applications were filed in Portugal, which translates into a 0.6% drop.


This decrease was also observed on European Union trademark applications and on international Trademark applications, with less 3.5% and 26.8% Applications respectively.With regard to Design protection, there was also a decrease: less 15.3% for Portuguese Applications, and less 4.1% for Community Applications.


Taking these indicators into account, one has to applaud the increase in the ability of Portuguese SMEs to innovate, especially in a period as turbulent as the one experienced last year, as well as the remarkable increase of awareness regarding pursuit of the defense of Industrial Property rights arising from these inventions.


However, if the indicators regarding Patent and Utility Model applications are encouraging, the remainder seem to indicate that we are dealing with the “poor relatives” of the former. This, in my opinion, is the consequence of a certain lack of consumer awareness on this matter because, in most cases, what is not protectable, for example, by means of Patent applications, may have other rights associated therewith which end up being neglected by unawareness or inefficient advice.


Taking the indicators regarding Designs, if we look at studies carried out on this matter, we can observe that Portuguese SMEs holding registered Designs have, on average, revenues per worker which are 17% higher than those of Portuguese SMEs with no intellectual property rights. Therefore, it seems evident to me that this type of rights are not being properly exploited because there is no seeking for advice for maximizing the potential of an asset that most small and medium-sized companies wouldn’t even know they could have it at their disposal and which could generate wealth.


When I meet with new customers, one of the most recurring situations is, always, the existence of the same question: "and this, can this be object of a Patent application?" as if they could get their new lucrative niche from there.


It turns out that, after analyzing the subject, in most cases, the answer ends being “no, but there are other types of rights that you can protect. You can protect the appearance of your product, or part of it, ensuring that only you can benefit from it. Furthermore, you can also register your Trademark enabling consumers to identify your product and its origin and to repeat the experience, over and over again. ”


This way, and without realizing it, the company has now two more types of rights that will allow it to generate an economic return, simply and only because it sought specialized advice.


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26 March 2021