The United States Patent and Trademark Office was established in order to protect inventors and give them the freedom to operate without concerns or push by larger corporations.
“The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity.” — USPTO
Most patents today aim at providing freedom to operate but do not protect the business from fair competition. Entrepreneurs invest in innovation and creativity to create a business and they wish to ensure ROI. A patent is a mechanism intended to protect their investment. It takes years to develop new technology and bring it to the market. During which, the market is shifting, and new technologies and ideas are being introduced. A patent portfolio that is designed around a freedom to operates needs gives its owner the peace of mind around various questions. For example, will the technology built be challenged by others? Or, will our competitors copy our technology? Yet, it is not a guarantee from competing technologies or market shifts. In fact, it is almost guaranteed that markets will be shifting and other technologies will show up to compete if the business incentive is there.
A high-quality patent protects the business first and needs to be considered under the business strategy
umbrella in order to stand the test of time as markets and technology shifts.
The basic drive for a new patent is the discovery and invention of new technology. Corporations, who allow technology to be the driver for new patents, end up with an inefficient IP portfolio. Adding the cost of a patent and the fact that, in many cases, a single patent can hardly protect an entire innovation, there is a high likelihood of potential loss.
The first step in creating an effective patent is to develop a patent portfolio strategy which supports the business strategy.
To be competitive a company must be highly strategic and avoid the pitfalls that others step into. By the time a patent is received, the technology, as well as the target market, will shift. The net result is that most patents will struggle to demonstrate any business, technology, or strategic value.
The beauty of a strategic patent portfolio comes from patents that focus on the business and use technology to create barriers to entry.
What do you think? Have you articulated an overall strategy for your patent portfolio? Comment below or contact me directly if you’d like to discuss your patent portfolio strategy.