After the known social upheavals linked to the events of 2013-2014, Ukraine's economy has started to emerge from a condition of prolonged recession. This brings hope of a flow of investments to different branches of the economy, primarily to those where investors will reap maximum benefit from Ukraine's markets.
The disintegration of the communist model of the social order that existed during the epoch of "developed socialism" paved a way to a more liberal economic model of a free market in Ukraine. This market is a developing one and presently is taking root with success.
Emerging markets are those that lie beyond the boundaries of economically developed countries whose economy is making huge strides and its intellectual property (IP) market is functioning smoothly. Emerging markets are in place in the majority of Asian countries (except for Japan), Africa and South America, and in the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. Hence, Ukraine is a country with an emerging market, mostly because it offers huge potential opportunities for starting and operating a business.
Investing in countries with a huge opportunity of business development and GDP growth means investing in emerging markets that promise a profit exceeding an average one. Besides, the value of investments, from the viewpoint of the difference of purchase and sale currency rates, and commission rates, is much higher in emerging markets than in developed ones (1).
Investing in emerging markets is attractive yet for another reason: these markets offer vast opportunities for future possible transfer of property to private ownership, and this property can be a good investment.
What industries in Ukraine are worthwhile for investing money?
Ukraine is an agrarian country, and certainly, the most promising market is the production and processing of agricultural products. Investments in this market sector are currently priority ones because they are a factor of both sustained development and economic progress of the country as a whole.
Ukraine concentrates, in the first place, huge agriculturally used lands and vast agricultural and raw material resources. During Soviet Union times, these resources were nationalised. Presently, they are holding a huge promise as regards privatisation and transfer to ownership for interested investors, both domestic and foreign ones. The area of chernozem land in Ukraine is one of the biggest worldwide (28 million hectares). Of the total area of agricultural land in Ukraine (42 million hectares), 32 million hectares are tilled annually. For comparison, Poland's agriculture production land area is 14 million hectares; in Germany, 12 million hectares; in Romania, 9 million hectares. This offers huge opportunities for introducing innovation technologies in Ukraine in both production and processing of agricultural products.
In early April 2015, President P. Poroshenko initiated a discussion on creating a land market in Ukraine. Agro.ReformsUA, an organisation created for promoting the land reform, has drafted a stagewise plan for introducing this reform. It provides for raising the moratorium on selling farmlands. B. Lozhkin, the Chief of the President's Administration, by forecasting the raising of the moratorium on selling land in 2016, stated that this would create an inflow of investments in Ukraine's economy, with a forecasted volume of roughly 50 billion USD. As envisioned by the country's leaders, this will attract both national investors and those from European countries, and the USA, China, Japan, and South Korea. For instance, George Soros, in an interview for the Standard media outlet, stated that he is willing to invest one billion USD in Ukrainian agriculture and the infrastructure (2).
That remains to be seen.
However, today it may safely be said that any investments are meaningless if no business development strategy has been developed and no safeguards are in place that would protect this strategy against harsh governmental administration and encroachment by competitors.
Investing in emerging markets, in particular, in Ukraine is an effort by all means more risky than investing in markets of developed countries. Therefore, when developing the mentioned strategy, one of the main tools to be used is providing protection of IP that would support the adoption of new technologies and their entrance to Ukraine's market, basically, technologies for production and processing of agricultural products.
As is well known, developing and introducing new technologies always comes with a step up in patenting inventions and other IP subject-matter. To determine the current state of affairs in patenting, patent statistics is a reliable tool for demonstrating the level of innovation activity. It enables using data on registration of inventions for a quantitative estimate of innovation activity in a certain country of the world.
Invention patenting trends in Ukraine and worldwide
As an example, we will consider the invention patenting trends worldwide and in Ukraine in agriculture starting from the year 2000. The statistical data on patenting IP in agriculture for 2000-2003 shows that, for instance, 19,857 invention applications were filed worldwide in 2000; in 2002, 22,873; in 2003, 24,187, i.e., a steady growth of invention patenting in this area is evident. The leaders in patenting were Japan, the USA, EU countries, China and South Korea. Table 1 shows the leading countries in patenting in agriculture during 2000-2003, with indication of their relative share in the total level of patenting in this area in the world (3).
Table 1. Leading countries in patenting in agriculture during 2000-2003
At the same time, the numbers of filed invention applications in the world are growing. For example, according to WIPO data, 2.9 million invention applications were filed worldwide in 2015, of which about 3.8% accounted for inventions in production and processing of agricultural products.
According to data of international patent statistics for 2000-2010, the world leader in the number of filed invention applications was Japan. During 2011-2012, the bulk of invention applications was filed in the USA. During 2013-2016, China was the leader. China registered an explosive growth of the number of filed invention applications over the past years. Thus, during 2002-2016, the level of patenting inventions in China had increased by a factor of 20. The sweeping growth of application filing in China, with an annual average of 27.7%, enabled the country to overtake first Japan, and then the USA by the number of filed invention applications and rank first worldwide by this indicator.
Unfortunately, the number of invention applications filed in Ukraine is very small. During 2004-2016, it was merely 5-6 thousand applications annually. The level of patenting in agriculture and processing of agricultural products was steady within 10-12 %. As regards patenting trends, recent years have witnessed a steady trend of declining patenting activity among national applicants, as summarised in Table 2.
The low level of invention activity in the country demonstrates that Ukraine is not paying much attention to innovative development in spite of the loud statements from speaker lecterns on the chosen path of modernising the economy, which were often heard over past years (2010-2016).
Table 2. Invention application filing in Ukraine
These patenting trends demonstrate that Ukraine still lacks an effective system for development and industrial application of innovations that would be acceptable for the national applicant.
At the same time, this trend is indicative of Ukraine's market attractiveness for foreign applicants and their desire to ensure legal protection of their intellectual property in Ukraine to protect business and invest in the Ukrainian market.
As evident, the Ukrainian market is being drawn far more forcibly into globalisation processes. Foreign players are entering this market aggressively, thereby increasing competition and driving Ukrainian companies out of traditional market sectors. Hence, analysis of patent statistics for Ukraine has shown that its technological dependence on foreign innovations is growing steadily.
Trademark registration – an indicator of market promotion of goods
In the majority of cases, purchased goods bear a trademark indicating the manufacturer of the product. Agricultural products are not an exclusion from this rule.
In 2014, about 28 million trademarks were effective worldwide. Note that in the global statistics of registration of trademarks, agricultural products and products made from them ranked first. Table 3 summarises data on the distribution of registered trademarks by industries over the specified years.
Table 3. Registration of trademarks by industries
|Textile, clothing and accessories
|Scientific research, IT, communication
|Management, communication, real estate and financial services
|Pharmaceuticals, fitness, beauty
|Recreation, education, tuition
|Transport and logistics
As evident from the Table, the agrarian sector ranks first worldwide (over 16%) by the number of filed trademark applications.
As regards Ukraine, during 2000-2016, the number of trademark applications filed in Ukraine increased annually (except for 2014) and reached 450,000 over the period indicated. Of this number, more than 18,7% of applications were for agricultural products and their processing.
Currently, national producers involved in agricultural production and processing of agricultural products are looking for new opportunities to promote their products to foreign markets, first thing to the European one. This has increased the activity of national applicants in registering their trademarks abroad under the Madrid system in the first place.
If prior to 2010 national applicants filed only 1,300 trademarks under the Madrid system (4), the total number of registrations presently has exceeded 4,000.
At the same time, the level of filing applications and registration of trademarks by foreign companies shows that the Ukraine's domestic market is attractive for foreign producers. Thus, lately (2012-2016), the number of foreign trademarks registered by foreign producers was roughly 37.5% of all trademarks registered in Ukraine (5). This demonstrates the substantial interest of foreign companies and corporations in entering the market of Ukraine.
An effectively built portfolio of IP subject-matter is a guarantee of sustained business development and its growing investment attractiveness in both the domestic and foreign markets.
The data given above are indicative that the Ukrainian market is attractive for foreign applicants and that they are seeking legal protection of their intellectual property in Ukraine.
Foreign applicants and patent owners should find their place in the current situation. In view of the perspectives of development in the agricultural industry market and its investment attractiveness, special emphasis should be placed on developing the agrarian sector, starting with growing agricultural products and through to serving these processed products to the consumer's table.
- Kokh R. The 80/20 principle. – M., Eksmo, 2013, p. 263-264.
- Samayeva Yu. Towards agro colonialism. Inf.-analyt. weekly Zerkalo nedeli. Ukraina, 2015, 15, p.1,6.
- Troyan Ye. Patenting and registering trademarks – essential tools for entry to a foreign market. Report at the Agromarket -2014 Conference, Kharkiv, 23 September 2014. Page access at: www.inventa.ua/ru/news
- Zharinova A. Ukrainian Institute for Industrial Property – 10 years of activity. Our achievements and prospects, Science and innovations, 2010, v.6, No. 5, p. 79-86.
- State Service of Intellectual Property of Ukraine. Annual report – 2016, Page access at: www.ukrpatent.org