Troy, Mich.—April 19, 2021—Celebrated every year on April 26, World Intellectual Property Day is sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and aims to educate the public on the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity. With a different focus each year, World IP Day 2021 looks at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) around the globe who drive business development, economic development and recovery, and human progress by bringing a product to market. Dickinson Wright PLLC intellectual property attorney Bill Honaker says World IP Day takes on new meaning this year when reflecting on pandemic-induced innovation.
“I talked to many business leaders as pandemic restrictions took effect, but instead of hearing defeat, I heard them talk of taking action,” Honaker said. “They were focused on helping the situation, protecting their employees, and creating solutions to address new challenges presented by the pandemic. That’s what we’re celebrating on World IP Day 2021.”
Indeed, the pandemic’s devastation and pending sense of doom in March 2020 was the springboard for innovation by companies of all sizes. Small to medium-sized enterprises in particular stepped up to the plate when they repurposed an existing innovation for use in a socially distanced, work-from-home world or created something entirely new to fulfill an emerging or anticipated need.
Honaker’s favorite story of innovation over the past year involves a client in the respirator industry. Although the company had been dipping its toe into healthcare, their primary products were industrial respirators used in the construction field. When the pandemic hit, the company redesigned an industrial respirator to be smaller, quieter and with a longer battery life so it could be effectively used in the healthcare industry. Their teams across the U.S. and as far away as New Zealand collaborated virtually to develop the new respirator product in record time, exceeding the company’s initial expectations. The development resulted in numerous IP filings which have now added significant value to the company.
“This is just one example of how small to medium-sized enterprises are pivoting during the pandemic to alter existing products or create new products that in the long-run will positively impact the trajectory of their business moving forward,” Honaker said. “Intellectual property has never been more valuable to a business and the pandemic should spur business owners to identify, collect and protect their intellectual property.”
The tools of the IP world include trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and design rights. Individually and collectively, they allow individual inventors, SMEs or multi-national corporations to transform an idea into a viable business opportunity, create jobs, generate value and enhance the number and type of products available to consumers. Further, according to information noted by the WIPO, companies that protect their intellectual property are financially stronger than those who do not.
“Regardless of size, companies who protect the value of their intellectual property are companies that nurture, cultivate and inspire innovation,” Honaker said. “In my experience, these are dynamic work environments that can’t help but excite their team members about what’s coming next. In that spirit, they continue to push forward for further innovation and new business opportunities.”
IP isn’t just about business though, savvy artists, songwriters, performers and writers also protect their intellectual property. For creators of all types, World IP Day is a reminder of their value in the marketplace and to society.
About the World Intellectual Property Organization
WIPO, established in 1967, is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation. It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, with 193 member states. Its mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. Learn more at https://www.wipo.int/portal/en/.
About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Founded in 1878, the firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Ill; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.
Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.