The annual Patenting School, an annual two-day conference aimed at providing participants with practical knowledge of how to patent hi-tech projects, both in Russia and abroad, got underway at the Skolkovo Technopark on Thursday.

The annual Patenting School is aimed at providing participants with practical skills in patenting tech projects. Photo:

Speaking at the opening session, Joerg Thomaier, chief intellectual property counsel at the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer Group, offered the audience some practical advice on patenting.

“IP is the lifeblood of innovation,” he told participants of the Patenting School.

“It’s like insurance when you invest in innovation, to make sure you can refuel your innovation and R&D and develop new drugs. It’s especially important for innovations and industries with high regulation like pharma and healthcare” in which new products can take a long time to reach the market, he added.

Thomaier, who praised the Skolkovo innovation city as “an ecosystem where creative ideas can flourish,” said that one of the factors any inventor must take into account is how long their innovation is likely to stay relevant. Patents can take three or four years to obtain, by which time the next wave of innovation may already have arrived, he noted.

“Here you need to think: what is a long-term innovation, and what is a fast-changing innovation? Big digital tech companies like Alphabet and Google don’t patent day-to-day innovations, because they are too quickly renewed. This is different to long-term investment industries, like pharmaceutical or crop protection, where there are also a lot of regulations. It costs billions, and to get that back, you really need protection on the market,” he told the Patenting School.

Joerg Thomaier, head of IP at Bayer (left) and the Skolkovo Foundation's Igor Drozdov. Photo:

Bayer’s IP guru also had advice on where to obtain patents.

“Start in the office of your home country, because that’s close to your heart, then go to treaty-based applications such as the PCT [Patent Cooperation Treaty that enables applications to simultaneously seek patents for their invention in 152 countries], and then start finding partners to fund, because it is expensive,” said Thomaier.

“You need to think where you will really explore the invention, what you want to achieve, and what the lifetime of the innovation is. If it’s short, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go abroad,” he advised.

Bayer files patents for 400-500 innovations per year, in at least 10-15 countries for each innovation, he said.

‘Patents equal profit’

More than 50 percent of patents issued to Skolkovo Foundation resident startups are for biomed projects, said Igor Drozdov, chairman of the board of the Skolkovo Foundation.

“About 40 percent of our international applications are for the U.S. and Canada, about 30 percent are for CIS countries, 20 percent for China, and about 10 percent for the EU,” he said.

Saule Tlevlesova, president of the Eurasian Patent Organisation, which comprises 8 former Soviet countries. Photo:

Drozdov acknowledged Thomaier’s statement regarding the costs of patenting, and told participants of the Patenting School that Skolkovo subsidises the costs of international patenting for residents.

“In Russia, more attention is paid to copyright than to patenting, and Skolkovo would like to correct this injustice, since the commercialization of technology is linked above all to the use of patenting legislation,” he said.

Overall, the number of patents in Russia has fallen dramatically compared with Soviet times, according to Grigory Ivliev, head of Rospatent, the Russian federal service for intellectual property.

“We had three times as many patents in Soviet times,” Ivliev told the Patenting School, noting that the leaders in patenting nowadays are China, the U.S., Japan and Korea.

Saule Tlevlesova, president of the Eurasian Patent Organisation, which comprises eight former Soviet countries, confirmed his words.

“In Soviet times, the Soviet Union was in first place in terms of applying for and receiving patents,” she said.

Grigory Ivliev, head of Rospatent, is a regular visitor to the Skolkovo innovation city. Photo:

Last year in Russia, there were 190 applications for patents per million people, she said.

“In Germany and the U.S., that figure is 5-20 times higher. In Japan, it’s 2,000, in Korea it’s 3,500.”

While the world has seen an overall increase of 195 percent in patenting in the last eight years, it is only thanks to Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (the latter two each saw 60 patent applications last year) that the Eurasian region is not bucking that overall trend, said Tlevlesova, adding that those three countries account for nearly 80 percent of applications in the region covered by the Eurasian Patent Organisation.

Forty-three percent of patent applications submitted to her organisation are in pharma, including from Bayer, said Tlevlesova. She encouraged those present to apply to the organisation, noting its working language is Russian, and is far cheaper than submitting individual applications to each country. In addition, there is a 90 percent discount for companies from the member countries, she said.

“What scientific or technical breakthrough can be made without going out into the world with a patent?” - Grigory Ivliev, head of Rospatent.

“I’m always glad to come to the Patenting School at Skolkovo, knowing you are our applicants,” she said.

Ivliev also expressed hope that the number of patent applications in the country would rise again, calling for more submissions from the field of blockchain, and noting that Rospatent’s application process is now electronic to make it more convenient to use.

“Patents equal profit,” he told the Patenting School.

“They also make human knowledge available for the whole world to ensure the achievement of further progress,” he added.

Finally, they are an essential instrument for fulfilling the “scientific-technical breakthrough” called for by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

“What scientific or technical breakthrough can be made without going out into the world with a patent?” asked Ivliev.