Tech City UK recently announced twenty-six companies that are joining its Future Fifty Programme in 2017. These companies are billed as being amongst some of the UK’s most promising start-up businesses.
Many of the start-ups on the list are aiming to disrupt different market sectors using innovative ideas, but are these companies doing enough to protect these ideas?
Analysis of the public database of worldwide patents and patent applications shows that only three of the twenty-six companies have filed patent applications. This means that less than 15% of the start-ups on the list are actively seeking to obtain protection for their inventions.
There is a total of six granted patents and fifteen pending applications owned by the three companies on the list of twenty-six. The most active patent applicant of the three companies is Roli – a music technology company producing a modular music creation system. Notably, they have managed to obtain a granted US patent for a music generator user interface.
For a company like Roli, granted patents and patent applications will be a good sign to potential investors, by providing some security that competitors should not be able to take a free ride on their investment.
Intellectual property protection may also serve as a deterrent to competitors that would like to eat into a company’s market share. In addition, patents and applications represent tangible business assets that will support a company’s value.
This analysis illustrates that only a few companies are actively engaged in protecting their intellectual property. However, those companies that are engaged in IP protection seem to be making good progress. On the other hand, the statistics indicate that many early stage businesses in the UK may be overlooking the value in their ideas.