Hungarian patenting practice is entering a new era

On November 11, MouldTech held a workshop at its headquarters in Zalaegerszeg, which focused on the practice of patenting and its future vision in Hungary. ZalaZONE Research & Innovation and WohnderDrone also participated in the workshop. The event was realized with the cooperation of the TECHTRA Technology Transfer Institute.

Alcím: Basic research, applied research and experimental development

MouldTech held an intellectual property protection workshop at its headquarters in Zalaegerszeg, which focused on the practice of patenting. At the invitation of the host, representatives of several local businesses participated in the workshop, including the developers of ZalaZONE Research & Innovation and WohnderDrone. The event was organized by Levente Huszti, project manager responsible for R&D cooperation and the Zalaegerszeg site of the TECHTRA Technology Transfer Institute.

The event was built around several professional presentations. After the introduction, Katalin Szmollár, head of the Innovation Support Office of the National Intellectual Property Office (NIPO), welcomed the participants. Katalin Szmollár explained that the innovation ecosystem in Hungary is currently being transformed. The funding of higher education institutions is changing, as is the attitude of the authorities, which creates a more supportive atmosphere for innovation at home. The head of the department emphasized that companies should be helped, e.g. in understanding patenting, which is a complicated and complex process. The goal of NIPO in this changing ecosystem is for all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to learn about their operations and the help they can provide.

Szmollár then explained the advantages of R+D (research and development) certification. R&D certification can provide effective assistance to all SMEs. As an example, she mentioned that significant tax benefits can be used for their activities. The head of the department emphasized that innovation is not the same as R&D, as they are also different from a legal point of view – although in our country the public often confuses the two. After that, the speaker moved on to the central topic of her presentation, the construction of innovation and brand building from tender sources. Szmollár explained the three basic concepts, which are also often confused by industrial players: these are basic research, applied research and experimental development. Basic research is a process that results in a publication, but not a patent. The NIPO fundamentally no longer supports these researches, because most of the time there is no continuation, or there will be no tangible results. (No use as a continuation.) Applied research, on the other hand, is a process that can be better supported by tenders, thanks to which these activities have recently become more and more common among SMEs. Applied research is already associated with tangible utilization, but what the NIPO would really support is the third group: experimental development. Experimental development is a process that results in prototype production. Szmollár emphasized that these three concepts are a continuous process, which, unfortunately, in our country most often stops at basic research, or at the latest at applied research.

The department head of the Innovation Support Office then explained the R+D criteria that SMEs must meet if they wish to apply. As she highlighted, the two most important criteria are novelty and the uncertainty of the research area, as well as being based on creative activity, methodical research and the ability to reproduce research results. (NIPO examines whether the given SME project meets the criteria based on the Frascati Handbook.) After the application, the organization gives the SME a preliminary rating on what it needs to change, then a subsequent rating, an expert opinion, which is a legal obligation and which finally decides whether they can receive the rating. Szmollár emphasized that even companies that do not specifically deal with R&D often receive support: it has already happened that a small business dealing with dried fruits received such a certification because during their everyday work they discovered a packaging procedure that keeps the fruits fresh longer.

Intellectual property protection

However, it was emphasized that the announcement of the R&D activity is just the beginning. In order for the product of an SME to be patented, it is necessary to wait another six months, during which all data about the product to be patented must be provided meticulously and in detail. Szmollár encouraged everyone to patent even a trademark despite the slow, careful and bureaucratic process, as its trust value is outstanding from the point of view of consumers. She cited the trademarked brand of Coca Cola as an example, which is able to compete with the many cola brands. She also recommended that every company use a so-called intellectual property diagnosis, based on which it is possible to assess what protectable intellectual property is in the SME’s possession.

Szmollár shared that the intellectual property market is huge in Hungary, as only 3.4% of domestic SMEs have protected intellectual property (IP) protection. IP is an extremely important accounting value, as patents, design elements, brand images, software, professional skills and know-how mechanisms now account for 90% of company valuations in more developed markets. A properly managed IP portfolio is thus an investment, not an unnecessary expense, as owners often believe. As an example, she cited Apenta, the oldest Hungarian brand, which has exclusively owned its company name and appearance since 1899, assuring all consumers that wherever their brand appears, it consistently provides them with the same quality.

Night of Open Factories

The workshop on patenting ended after that, but MouldTech prepared another surprise for the guests. On November 11, the Night of Open Factories (NOP) began at six in the evening. Within the framework of the NOP, the guests – together with external interested parties – could take part in a 1.5-hour guided tour of MouldTech’s factory and innovation center, where they could see how the company’s development is progressing, and finally, with the help of experienced pilots, they could fly a drone right next to ZalaZONE.