Offensive vs. Defensive Patenting
Difference between Offensive vs. Defensive Patenting. For most people, patent protection may seem like a one-way affair; you file a patent for your invention and monetize. However, large corporations involved in long-term research and filing hundreds or thousands of patents annually, many of which are interrelated, adopt more comprehensive and complex patent strategies; the most common of which are offensive strategy and defensive strategy.
An offensive patent strategy is designed to block competitors from gaining entry to your proprietary technologies and business sector. Using an offensive patent strategy means filing patents for almost all reasonable inventions as soon as is practicably possible. It may be understood that filing such large number of patent applications and its maintenance may turn out to be a costly affair; however, an offensive patent strategy may help the business to derive large revenue by licensing or selling its aggregated patent portfolio.
Defensive patenting is the strategy of obtaining patent protection without necessarily intending to assert or enforce those negative rights associated with a patent. Using a defensive patent strategy, a company files patents primarily to ensure that innovations can be used without the risk of competitor patenting that technology and later enforcing the same upon the said company. With a defensive strategy, the overall cost will be small as there is less filing fee, but the company will not be able to directly monetize such portfolio.
In most cases, the aim of offensive strategy is to protect a businesses’ core technology and thwart competitors from entering into its key product segments, thus in turn driving business’s revenue and profits. Whereas, the aim of defensive strategy is to capture unclaimed territory surrounding core technology by patenting small and incremental improvements in its product line-ups, which blocks alternative designs and shields the business against infringement suits by competitors.
In addition to these two strategies (offensive and defensive) an organization can adopt something in between, depending on the field and the type of the technology it uses. A defensive patent portfolio can be combined with a large number of in-licensed technologies (out of offensive patent strategy) for monetization. It may be understood that the offensive and defensive IP strategies are not mutually exclusive and most of the successful companies use its assets within the IP portfolio for both offensive and defensive purposes.