As the market continues to become more and more global and competition appears to be emerging everywhere, how do manufacturers protect their investment in product development? Recently, JCB took action at BAUMA to force the removal of equipment infringing on its patents. I applaud them for taking a stand. Unfortunately, with the open flow of information comes a real risk of intellectual property and product designs being stolen. As manufacturers, you invest enormous amounts of money, not to mention time, blood, sweat and tears into developing new and innovative products. These products are developed, not only to advance the industry, but also to give you and your brand a competitive edge. However, with detailed specs, drawings and other information online, and products very visible at tradeshows, the risk exists that another company will copy your design with little or no investment — infringing on your patent, your competitive edge and your profits. In fact, several of the clients we’ve begun working with are hesitant to market with much detail on the web or even in print in those countries that don’t protect their patent rights – or even in the U.S. where fear exists a competitor will steal their design. As a marketing company, we seek to give our clients every competitive edge when promoting their products – utilizing every tool possible to market. But, we recognize and understand the risks this might pose and respect our client’s decisions to not utilize the tools at their fingertips in certain instances.
Is this issue a concern for your company? How do you address it? What marketing tools do you refrain from using to prevent the risk of losing your proprietary designs?