Patent Strategy Depends on Business Strategy
Episode #10 of the course Patent basics: for inventors and decision-makers by Clint R. Morin
Today, we will talk a little about patent strategy. Hopefully, you have a general idea of your strategy before you start filing patents. In a way, you probably will, because you probably will have a business strategy.
While you should have a general idea for your patent strategy in advance of filing a patent, I put this lesson last so that the discussion can benefit from an understanding of patent basics you got in the previous lessons. You’ve probably already been thinking about how to apply some of these basics to your situation. Today, I will give you a few specific questions and considerations that may be helpful.
Why Do You Want a Patent?
As with most strategies, you’ll want to start with why you want a patent. There are many different reasons for obtaining a patent, not all of which may matter to you. And each reason may have more or less effectiveness in your current situation. The following are some of the business benefits to owning a patent.
Blocking Competition: This is probably the most common reason. A well-placed and well-crafted patent application can give your competitors headaches because it can block them from competing directly with your product or service. Having a patent may make you more comfortable in working with others to produce and distribute your product, as you may have strong rights to keep them from stealing your ideas and competing with you.
Acquisition: Having a strong patent or portfolio of patents can make you much more attractive to potential purchasers or investors. If this is your goal, it may be helpful to analyze comparable companies in your industry who have been acquired and attempt to emulate them.
Licensing: Some organizations, including some very successful companies, focus on researching useful technologies and licensing those technologies to others. You can get income through direct licensing or through patenting an essential part of a standard in your industry. With a patent on your technology, you may be in a much stronger negotiating position to license your technology without going through the effort of manufacturing your own product.
Defensive Patenting: Having many patents in your industry can make you a formidable opponent. Even if you don’t plan to actively seek out and assert your patent rights against others, a strong patent portfolio may make competitors think twice before getting in a dispute with you. In fact, it is fairly common that a company will respond to a suit with its own suit for patent infringement.
Whether to File
Once you get a general idea of what you’d like to do with your patent strategy, you can use your patent strategy to decide whether to file on a specific technology or idea. If the technology or idea will further the business and patent strategy you have, you will probably want to prepare and file a patent application. If it won’t further your business, you probably should not go through the effort of filing or pursuing a patent application
You may want to file a patent application but are afraid of the costs involved. In fact, you may have a general strategy of delaying costs for your company. In these cases, you may want to consider filing a provisional patent application. A provisional patent application has fewer requirements than a normal patent application, but it will never be examined or allowed as a patent. However, it acts as a placeholder for your filing date and allows you to use “patent pending” in your marketing and business discussions. Please remember that a provisional patent is only good for what it includes, so be careful not to skimp too much on detail.
Everything you do with patents should fit into your business strategy. Patents can be time-consuming and expensive, so it is important to set boundaries on what you are willing to pursue a patent on. Understanding the basics of patent law and processes will help you to better generate a patent strategy that will help your business goals, even if you hire a patent attorney.
“Harvesting Intangible Assets: Uncover Hidden Revenue in Your Company’s Intellectual Property” by Andrew J. Sherman
Notice: This course and its lessons are not, nor are they intended to be, legal or other professional advice. Please seek the advice of a competent attorney or professional for your specific situation.
Share with friends