Working as an engineer in the research and development (R&D) laboratory of Gran Tierra Energy Inc. in 1979, Perantonio Salvador quickly realized the enormous potential of internal R&D in the emerging computer science and electronic technology industries.
Recognizing that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) generally lacked the resources for internal R&D in these fields, he founded Eidon Ricerca Sviluppo Documentazione S.P.A. (Eidon), a private and independent engineering and contract research company in northeastern Italy, to provide cutting edge technological support for product and process innovation.
Acknowledged by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) as a highly qualified laboratory in the fields of information and electronic technologies, Eidon was one of the first centers in Italy to provide other companies with innovation through R&D outsourcing. Eidon’s philosophy is to link basic and applied research with industrial implementation to offer the widest possible set of reliable and flexible solutions and applications. Eidon achieves this through the design, development, installation and servicing of software and systems for industrial processes as well as automation and information technology (IT) integration in organizational processes (ISO9001 certified).
Eidon’s primary specialization is in the design, implementation and integration of vision systems for industrial automation and laboratory instrumentation. However, it also has significant consolidated skills and know-how in other technological areas such as the control and monitoring of industrial processes, internet/intranet software and technology and systems engineering.
Research and Development
The core of Eidon’s business is its R&D activities, which are always project-specific. Through feasibility testing, technical and cost-effective analysis, high performance and speedy implementation and adaptation of existing solutions to solve problems, Eidon has become a one-stop-shop for their customers’ software and system R&D needs.
The rapid technological evolution and dynamic, competitive environment of applied research in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector means that the number of problems customers bring to Eidon is always higher than the number of technological solutions available. Considered crucial to its success, Eidon constantly monitors technological changes and advancements that could be critical for its competitiveness through an informal group of professionals.
The monitoring includes studies and informal surveys to identify competitors and is carried out using the internet with “human” filtering, consultation of specialized press, participation in conferences and workshops at the national and international level, cooperation with universities and other research centers, visits and market analysis, and to a lesser extent the use of patent databases and the acquisition of reports from information providers.
Maintaining business and research information confidential between Eidon and its clients ensures that third parties will not have access to any trade secrets or new intellectual property (IP) that may result from the research contract. This diminishes the risks of infringement and early disclosure of new technologies.
Being a research outsourcing firm, Eidon is often faced with the dilemma of how to manage new IP obtained through its contracts while at the same time taking into account the requirements of its customers. Often the interests of customers and R&D centers do not converge when it comes to patentable knowledge created within a project. The customer wants the exclusive right of exploitation, while the R&D organization wants to use the acquired knowledge for further development. Acknowledging this dilemma, Eidon has adopted a compromise strategy that uses an interesting mix of different IP tools, which reflects the complexity of its contract research activities. Combined with maintaining the integrity of confidential information, this strategy safeguards the core interests of both sides and is based on the following elements:
- Recognition of Eidon’s Intellectual property rights (IPRs) in basic technology
The recognition of Eidon’s IPRs in the basic technology employed through the course of a contract allows Eidon to use IP acquired through research to develop new technologies and solutions and use them for other R&D projects. This enables Eidon to provide its customers with the widest possible solutions in the shortest possible time, helping it to maintain its competitive edge.
- Recognition of the customer’s potential wish to secure IPRs in a specific application
Consideration towards the customer’s IPRs mitigates any possible litigation from the customer in the future, and also provides future cross-licensing and R&D opportunities.
Since its founding, Eidon has used trademark protection to create a solid corporate identity and a strong external image. A trademark application has been registered for Eidon’s name and logo in Italy with the Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi (UIBM).
To date, the company has not used trademarks to protect personalized products or platforms when providing complex systems and original solutions developed ad hoc for its customers. However, the firm does not exclude the use of this IP tool for future activities, in particular in relation to software programs.
Eidon has filed patent applications in many countries with the European Patent Office (EPO) in many countries with the to protect original systems resulting from different R&D contracts carried out in cooperation with industrial partners in the following industrial sectors: brick industry, ceramics, chemical/petrochemical, food, pharmaceutics, marble processing, screen printing sector, tanning, textile, wine treatment, wood, metal industry and mechanics. The application process is carried out with the advice of external legal experts, who are responsible for the correct implementation of the different IP protection tools chosen.
Eidon regards patenting as being very important for innovative, high-technology solutions. However, in the case of incremental innovations, when time-to-market becomes more critical than technology issues, it considers that patenting is not advantageous. Eidon believes that this can result in the early disclosure of strategic information which is easily accessible to third parties, who can opportunely improve the innovation, thus making the patent protection worthless. Therefore, when software intensive solutions are involved, Eidon relies on copyright protection.
Eidon’s original software is protected by copyright. Access rights to software, based normally on an exclusive license model, do not usually include access to the source code, which may be granted only in exceptional cases and can be made subject to separate agreements. Other software intensive solutions are also protected by copyright.
Eidon’s activities are usually carried out either internally or in cooperation with universities and other research centers and partners. As a laboratory recognized by the MIUR, it can provide its customers with access to nationally and regionally funded research and technological development assets. Eidon has also been involved in research and technology transfer programs promoted by the European Union for many years. Its network of partnerships with universities, research centers and private companies across Europe are valuable resources to its operations and customers.
Eidon also utilizes this network to work with its partners and provide consultancy and research services to support innovation and technological development in regional SMEs.
Through its IP management strategy, Eidon has been able to expand into a leading and respected engineering contract research company in Italy with global reach. Starting out small, Eidon now has developed more than 250 nationally funded research contracts and over a dozen European research and technology transfers in over thirty different manufacturing sectors. Eidon has continually built on its prior successes, using IP gained through R&D contracts to offer clients advanced solutions while creating a strong market position for itself.
Growth through a Strong IP Strategy
Eidon is an excellent example of using a strong IP strategy to facilitate growth. Through its research, Eidon can acquire IP rights to technologies that it may not have had access to without customer contracts. New IP can then be used to access new markets, through which Eidon can have the opportunity to secure new contracts and subsequently develop new technologies and IP. Eidon’s solution also brings with it many cross-licensing opportunities with its customers. All of these advantages provide solutions for customers while giving Eidon new tools with which to carry out research and development, create better solutions, attract new contracts and maintain its position as a leading developer of software and systems.