Patents ensure that companies can market their ideas without their competitors being able to copy them. Firms which conduct research can keep the rewards for themselves and thus recoup the costs of developing new products and processes.
In this way, patents provide companies with an incentive to invest in research and development. However, small and medium-sized enterprises often find it particularly difficult to turn their ideas into marketable products. The SIGNO project (the acronym stands in German for the Protection of Ideas for Commercial Exploitation) offers professional assistance in just such cases. The project, which is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Technology and carried out under the auspices of the German Economic Institute (IW), supports entrepreneurs at every stage, beginning with obtaining legal protection for the idea itself and continuing right up to its ultimate realisation.