The electrical and mechanical engineering industries produce the components and products which facilitate our modern lifestyle.
Engineering is a dynamic sector with valuable research and innovation and breakthrough technology. Proprietary designs, processes, and products are significant in the engineering sector.
Companies in the engineering industry, such as mechanical engineering or electrical engineering companies, must clearly define their intellectual property and protect their designs, processes, and inventions. Intellectual property protects the competitive advantage of the company, its market share, and its reputation.
As the world is characterized by increases in manufacturing capacities, globally and particularly in China, it requires companies to have more research and development and more innovation. Intellectual property rights protect the work and innovation of engineers and companies.
Intellectual property (IP) is not about patent alone. It covers industrial property, including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source.
Another type of IP is copyright. Among other things, copyright protects drawings and software, manuals, and product descriptions. Work does not need copyright registration to be protected by copyright law, but registration does provide additional rights. Also, trade secrets, which usually refer to information, formula, device, or process, can gain intellectual property protection and complement the patent system.
To gain protection, trade secrets must have economic value and should be protected proactively. Trade secrets are not the strongest intellectual property rights protection, but they can sometimes be the best option.
For example, if a company’s advantage does not come from its products but from its production method, which cannot be determined by looking at the products, trade secrets regarding the production method may be the best way to protect it.
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The damage of counterfeits
Counterfeiting is increasing across industries, for big corporations as well as small- and medium-sized organizations. Europe’s mechanical and plant engineering sector lost an estimated €7.6 billion (over 9 billion dollars) to product privacy and counterfeiting in 2019, according to industry body VDMA, as reported by Security Industry. The report also shows that in the German mechanical and plant engineering sector, over 90% of companies with 500+ employees are affected by piracy.
Counterfeiting involves imitating products, product components, and design. Product components are required mainly for machinery and are an important part of the engineering industry.
As designs become more advanced and complex, there is a lot to gain from imitation. Design IP can help create differentiated processes and products, protected as a system, module, or equipment even when there is no innovation. In addition to patents and industrial designs, trademarks counterfeiting and reproduction of marketing material are also common.
Without protection, counterfeiting will continue to damage sales and reputation, while often creating a safety risk. Safety issues can affect operators or users of machinery and may affect the ability to operate the system.
Intellectual property issues
The most significant issue is the need to register a patent for new innovations. Innovations can be the development or improvement of a product or method. When innovation exists, it is crucial to obtain a patent, maintain, and defend it.
Another issue is being careful not to publicly disclose new inventions before filing a patent application. Engineers and organizations may reveal their innovation in an article or a presentation. However, public disclosure can result in a waiver of patent protection, even if known through your own action.
No patent is the result in many countries, including the U.S. Although in many countries it immediately disqualifies the patents, in the U.S., you have one year from the disclosure date to file a U.S. patent application.
Companies such as Siemens, Bosch, GE, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi Electric invest in research and innovation to maintain their competitive advantage.
They develop and manufacture products, design systems, and tailor solutions for complex projects. Companies are aware of the need for IP protection and the high costs of not doing it. Dedicated departments and consultants work to create IP assets: register patents, make sure patents are competitive, and enable the company to take full advantage of its intellectual property.
Other measures include preventing the entry of counterfeit products into a territory. For example, Mitsubishi Electric distributes its products only through a network of authorized distributors.
Another example is OmniCable, authorized to sell Eaton, Schneider Electric (Square D), and Siemens circuit breakers to electrical distributors in the U.S. The program helps to provide authentic, safe, and reliable products, and reduce the risk of customers buying counterfeit products, and also reduces the issue of gray market products.
Gray marketing, or parallel importation, affects multiple industries globally, including the electrical and mechanical engineering sectors.
With gray marketing, your branded products can be sold by unauthorized distributors who compete with your authorized dealers and usually sell your products for a lower price. But it can also be your authorized distributors who participate in the gray market in breach of agreements.
Gray marketing is ever more prevalent due to the global reach of online sales. It reduces overall sales and can damage brand reputation as well as create price erosion.
Competition is fierce, but while honest competition helps to drive innovation and growth, illegal imitation and reproduction is harmful. Therefore, intellectual property protection is crucial for companies in the highly specialized fields of engineering.
To prevent IP infringement, both online and offline, companies must manage their IP. A clear understanding of your IP situation is essential for IP protection strategy. It is crucial for new IP rights registration and protection. It is also significant for existing IP in order to better use, reuse, and defend it.
Automatic IP Protection by Wiser Market
The fundamental shift to e-commerce makes online protection increasingly crucial. Strong online IP protection requires continuous monitoring and analysis.
At Wiser Market, we have developed a unique IP Monitoring System to detect and take down online IP infringements, and built a team of experts with years of experience in protecting companies’ online intellectual property, from brand abuse and gray marketing in both B2B and B2C industries.
As a leading online brand protection agency, Wiser Market offers a 360° automatic solution, protecting your business from IP infringements and combating online counterfeits.
Combining innovative technology, advanced tools, actionable data, and expert analysis, we provide customized services that optimize our clients’ online presence across all digital channels, including marketplaces, websites, socials media, ads, domains, apps and more.
Our highly-effective, long-term online brand protection strategy defends your revenue and reputation, with proven results of over 90% success rate.
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