The 5 company sins leading to accelerating patent costs
The relevancy and importance of a company’s products and solutions can change over time, often due to changing trends or development of new improved or cheaper products etc. Consequently, a once so important and much sought after patent may no longer provide value to their business.
In my personal experience, the 5 major sins committed by many companies, especially SME:S that lead to accelerating patent costs and indeed even a waste of resources and investment are:
- Maintaining a patent at all cost and almost never reflect on whether it is helping them make business or not.
- Almost never check if a patent is infringed or not by third parties and if detected, never take any actions to stop the infringement.
- Protection in countries of no potential market value.
- Never keeping track of the development and patenting strategies of the competitors.
- Filing patents without investigating existing prior-art and/or file a too wide protection that can never hold against opposition.
3 clear reasons why you should patent (what are patents good for?).
No matter what others might think or say, patent protection in general is an important available option for your innovative enterprise:
- To use as a strategic barrier to prevent your competitors from entering selected business activities and/or specific applications as well as blocking them from designing around your innovation.
- To protect your investment and innovations against infringement and misappropriation as well as ensure your freedom to operate in your strategic market places.
- To capitalize on your assets and investment and hence increase the value of your enterprise, attract investors and build up your market status and reputation.
My 3 top tips to avoid these company sins.
- Regularly perform (preferably once a year) an evaluation of your own patent portfolio in order to assess, among other things, whether or not a patent should be allowed to lapse in some countries or even be dropped altogether, or whether a strengthening of a patent family is desired. Maybe you should even consider if a licensing option is possible.
- Always perform "prior art" before you file and critically question the scope of the protection, even if you get the advice from your attorney to go wide. Remember, what you need to protect is your innovation and not the complete field of application.
- Stay well informed and aware of your business playground (competitors and technology) and learn to exploit and capitalize on your gained awareness. Setting up of a competitor/technology watch is the ideal way to gain this business intelligence, but you need to promptly review and act on your findings.
One more thing!
Your company shareholders and investors are mostly happy and willing to invest in protecting the developed innovations, because they believe they get a return on their investments many folds! But to maintain a patent that has lost it´s intended purpose, does not generate revenues, or is not defended against infringement. In my opinion that is a mismanagement and a waste of investment.
What´s your best advice?
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