The war has exposed a problem that until recently seemed to be of secondary importance: Protection of intellectual property.

Why did this happen?

Ukrainian entrepreneurs thought about intellectual property (IP), so to speak, ‘for the future’. Stereotypically, IP was thought of as a ‘plaything’ of market giants – something that has become so entrenched in the minds of the public that today we have to catch up with this gap by leaps and bounds.

And we're talking not even about individual cases here, but about the IP culture in general.

After all, how has any training for young businessmen started for years? With motivational stories and ‘three secrets of online promotion’. But it should have started with a banal phrase: "First of all, take care of protecting your products if you don't want to fail."

How does this work in practice?

Just look at the Ukrainian agricultural sector. The industry, which was actively developing at the beginning of the last century, now has to import seeds and fertilisers from abroad, playing by the supplier's rules rather than dictating its own terms and developing selective breeding.

The reason is quite simple: There is no sustainable programme to support national producers working with domestic material.

If we look at this case from the IP point of view, we have lost millions while working under foreign licences instead of registering and developing our own products – and we continue to lose the money today.

Something similar is still happening in the start-up market, especially in the defence sector.

Unfortunately, our developers are used to handing over weapons projects to private companies for a one-time fee. But they could bring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to the economy.

So the problem is complex, and it manifests itself at absolutely all levels – from large Ukrainian companies that have to take care of IP compliance in a hurry to small businesses that enter new markets and face a legislative curtain.

And we are not talking about designs that can be protected as a registered design, or the direct innovation component through the prism of patent protection for inventions.

Given that an IP court is yet to be launched in Ukraine and the procedures for selecting judges have not yet been completed, the process of protecting intellectual property rights remains extremely long, expensive and complex.

That is why one should think about protecting their business interests at the stage of product creation, not when it is recognised and unfair competition can be triggered.

Unfortunately, this problem cannot be solved in weeks or months. If the issue itself is complex, the solution must be appropriate.

We will have to build a legal culture from scratch, and the IP office needs the support of business in this regard. First and foremost, we need their willingness to change and finally play by the global rules.