Innovation is pivotal to economic growth and societal transformation. The concern then is to determine the means to uphold a continuous flow of innovations. The patent system is one of the institutional means that is used as incentive to encourage individuals and firms to produce innovations. It is important to study the use of the patent system by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), partly because of their numerical significance in industry and partly because of their importance as a force of innovation. In this project, we will study why the SMEs prefer to use or not to use the patent system and how their decision impacts on their performance with IPR.
We do this through studies of documents and in-depth interviews with decision makers (leaders and/or managers) in SMEs in selected industries. The study will be situated in the Baltic Sea Region. We will study the experiences of SMEs of the patent systems and utility models in four countries: Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia. In Sweden and Latvia only the patent system is applied. Finland and Estonia use both the patent system and the utility model, a system which is expected to be more beneficial and attractive to the SMEs. It is interesting to compare the experiences of Finland and Estonia to those of Sweden and Latvia to investigate the extent to which SMEs are using and benefiting from the utility model.
The Baltic Sea Region perspective is important due to the fact that there are legal differences between the Baltic countries. Some countries, such as Finland and Estonia, have through legislation created another IPR, the utility model. The protection of utility models is mainly motivated by creating a protection more accessible for SMEs than patent protection. Our research will highlight whether SMEs in these countries are benefitted from the creation of the protection of utility models alongside with the patent protection.
Innovation and entrepreneurship is one of the strongest research and education profiles of Södertörn University. The research project links this innovation profile to Södertörns Baltic Sea Region research profile. Södertörn can become a platform for research in intellectual property rights in the Baltic Sea Region, especially from a broader perspective than just the legal. To our knowledge there is no research on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the Baltic Sea Region at Södertörn at present. We plan to collaborate closely with CBEES and we have already initiated the process by submitting an application for funds to CBEES for a workshop on the patent systems and the SMEs for researchers and practitioners from the Baltic Sea region.