The Importance Of Intellectual Property In Health Tech

(© Luxinnovation)

Following the dedicated workshop organised by the Institut de la Propriété Intellectuelle Luxembourg on 6th June with Luxinnovation, here are a few elements on IP for Health Tech companies.

Health Technology has grown significantly in importance in recent years and has changed the way people access health services and solutions. Accordingly, the number of developments in this sector has also increased significantly creating a very competitive industry.

Regardless of the type of tool, application or service concerned, it encompasses a wide range of innovations such as telemedicine, electronic health records, wearable health devices, mobile health applications and AI-driven solutions.

Therefore, considering intellectual property (IP) has become crucial in this sector, whether to block competitors, protect its own developments, share or transfer them to partners, or use third-party’s IP assets to accelerate its own developments.

The protection of IP serves not only to secure a competitive advantage, but also helps attract investors and potential partners.

The legal rights conferred by the IP system allow their owners to control them and decide on their use,  transfer or assignment. IP encompasses several forms of legal protection that need to be considered in the Health Tech industry:

  • Patents, for new technological developments and software (if providing a technical solution).
  • Trademarks, for product names, logos, icons and slogans, helping in building brand recognition and trust.
  • Designs, for product external distinctive appearance, user interfaces or icons, etc.
  • Copyright, for original creative works, such as software code, website written content, user guides, user interfaces, etc.
  • Database sui generis rights, for databases’ structure, or the original selection or arrangement of material.

Means of protection must be used when necessary and information on unprotected IP must be kept secret prior to any disclosure, as this could destroy the possibility of future registration. Thus, and given that open innovation practices are frequently used in the Health Tech industry, requiring information sharing between partners, the application of confidentiality measures and agreements is crucial.

Very often, start-ups are started relatively informally, with the help of friends and family, without any clear agreement between the individuals. Even if it might be a tricky question, all issues related to the IP and its ownership must be clarified as early as possible, even at the very start of the business, as this ownership might lie with them, and not necessarily with the company.

IP is key at all stages of the company’s development and should not be overlooked!

To help companies protect their IP assets, the European Union and the European Union IP Office (EUIPO) [URL:] have developed the SME Fund, a scheme that allows companies to be reimbursed up to 75% of the fees for filing and registering IP rights. Give it a try!

In Luxembourg, the initiative is supported by the Intellectual Property Office of the Ministry of the Economy [URL:], the Institut de la Propriété Intellectuelle Luxembourg [URL:] and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property [URL:]. For more information on IP, including the SME Fund, you can either contact [email protected] or [email protected].

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