Patentanwalt Dr. Betram Rapp

by Dipl.-Phys. Dr. Bertram Rapp
(Foto: Charrier Rapp & Liebau)

Patent attorney Dr. Bertram Rapp, Charrier Rapp & Liebau

How to emerge stronger from the crisis as an entrepreneur

Exactly eleven years ago, at the height of the world financial crisis heralded at the time by the insolvency of Lehman Bank, I published an article in the Bayerisch-Schwäbische Wirtschaft under the headline “Necessity is the mother of invention”. The thoughts expressed at that time could, I think, also be of interest in the crisis we find ourselves in today. Hence a brief summary adapted to the current situation. When business people talk on the phone, Skype or chat in these days of “physical distancing,” the first and usually only topic is the health crisis facing all of humanity. I do not want to go into the terrible human fates here. But what is dangerous about this crisis in economic terms is not the temporary cooling of the economy, which is not an entirely unusual occurrence. The real crisis for companies and the economy as a whole is the onset of lethargy. Declining orders and sales lead to a lull in entrepreneurial thinking; the entrepreneur no longer acts, he only reacts, and this with short-term effective means such as short-time work or even layoffs. This overlooks the fact that, in all experience, every period of economic weakness is followed by an upswing. Who would have predicted the economic miracle in 1945? And back then, Germany was in ruins! Although the stock market has collapsed, it is now holding relatively steady, so that many are already talking about entry prices. Hospitals are still filling up, but it is also clear that the current threat will not last. So when the economic signals turn green again in late summer, with new orders and exports growing and industry and the skilled trades desperately seeking skilled workers, only those companies that set the course for the future now will be well equipped. Instead of short-term problems, the entrepreneur must once again see the medium and long-term perspective and create a future-oriented working atmosphere. In recent years, the top performers in the companies, the innovative minds and inventors, have hardly had time to turn to new product ideas because they were completely absorbed by day-to-day order processing and project work. Now that the day-to-day business is running more smoothly, the forward-looking entrepreneur will make sure that the think tank starts up, that problems are identified and solved, and that new products and operational processes are created. The short-term thinkers who do not promote their developers and inventors now or even send them into short-time work will be left with empty hands and demotivated employees at the end of the “crisis”, while their future-oriented competitors will then have new solutions, new technologies and new patents at their disposal. What could be a better prerequisite for the hoped-for upswing? For the worldwide patenting of new products and processes, companies applying for patent protection now benefit from the priority system. A small investment in a German patent application is all that is needed to preserve rights. It is then possible to take twelve months with the foreign applications, and even up to 31 months if an international patent application is filed, i.e. until the end of 2022. By then, the order books should have filled up and the machines in this country will be running at full speed again! In a free variation of an old Swabian proverb, the motto is: “Invent in time of need, then earn in time!” Yours Dr. Bertram Rapp Do you have any questions for patent expert Dr. Bertram Rapp, or would you like more in-depth advice?
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