Advanced Patent Strategies
Whatever your intellectual property assets may be, obtaining a patent can be an excellent way to protect them and increase the value of your business. Getting a patent alone, however, without meaningful business and intellectual asset strategies, leaves a lot of the idea’s true value unrealized. The unrealized value may be captured by other companies, or may simply be lost altogether.
In addition to simply filing for and obtaining patents surrounding its core technologies, a company should increase its sophistication in developing and managing new ideas, and in prosecuting patents. New ideas and patent strategies should be discussed during the company’s IP Strategy meetings. Here are some advanced strategies for companies who want to increase their patent strategy sophistication:
- Track competitor and business partner technologies and business developments. By tracking and documenting a company’s patents, publications, press releases and new products, you can get a good idea of what that company thinks is important and what technologies it is developing. This greater knowledge will help ensure that you are at least up to speed with, but preferably ahead of, your competition. For potential business partners, you can understand the company’s newest developments and make sure your business strategies and sophistication will suit their needs.
- Have a procedure for submitting and evaluating new ideas and hold New Idea Review meetings at least once per quarter (or more often as your company’s needs indicate – monthly is common) to review new ideas for the company. Identify the potential value streams for the idea and whether it is a project the company would like to consider.
- For each idea determined to have potential value for the company, perform an introductory novelty search and market analysis to determine whether a provisional patent application should be filed for the concept. If it is determined that a provisional patent should be filed to establish a priority date for the idea and consider further research into developing the idea into a value stream, an initial brainstorming session is recommended with appropriate team members to flush-out the purpose for the application and its anticipated scope and variations.
- When filing utility patents, spend some time considering the known patents and products, as well as ways to design around your own anticipated patent claims. By attempting to design around your own patent claims, you increase the value of your own patent by anticipating what your competitors will do and blocking them before they do it.
- File continuation and continuation-in-part applications to establish clusters of patents in a particular area. Many related patent applications can go a long way to furthering your exclusivity in a market and to your perceived value to other companies interested in entering that market. Clusters can also be established through unrelated patents on numerous related technologies. Again, with any new patent filing it is a good idea to hold a brainstorming session with the technical and marketing groups to determine all of the possible variations for designing around your own patent claims and to include that disclosure in the application for protection later.
- In tracking your competitors’ patents, technologies and activities, take time in IP Strategy Meetings to anticipate competitor movements and flaws in their products that will need to be fixed. For your own patents, look for other ways, no matter how unlikely, to achieve the same benefits (design-arounds). For both your competitor’s ideas and the design-arounds on your own patents consider filing blocking patents to establish a wall around yourself to keep competitors out, and a wall around your competitors to limit their movements or require them to pay a license to you for fixing their own problems.
Patents are one of the most valuable intellectual assets a company can own. Learning and utilizing advanced patent strategies can significantly increase your position in the marketplace and exponentially enhance the value of the patents you may already be filing and obtaining. Contact a Booth Udall Fuller attorney today to start taking advantage of advanced patent strategies.