The Best Patent Strategy – An Explainer

A substantial intellectual property (IP) portfolio is like a treasure trove for both private and public entities. And patents comprise one of the major elements of it. Therefore, while developing a coherent strategy, one must analyze every self-developed, outgoing and incoming IPs. Patent strategy forms a crucial part of the overall IP strategy and is a responsible approach to inventing.

What is Patent Strategy?

Patent strategy is a series of steps that a firm takes to safeguard their inventions and position within the technology sector of their expertise. These strategies often need preventive analysis of the status quo so that the risk and opportunities can be identified.

While bigger companies can afford offensive patent strategies, smaller ones usually implement a cost-efficient yet effective strategy. Similarly, public sector strategies aim at advancing social welfare. Therefore, the best approach cannot be a one-size-fits-all. The strategies usually depend on the goals, objectives and motivation of the company.

Moving forward with developing a comprehensive patent strategy, the first involves looking into the technologies that currently exist in the organization, ranging from trade secrets to know-hows. Every piece of information – from the date of issuing patents to their expiration dates, existence of licenses, and potential of IPs – is there in a company’s database. The assessment sheds light on whether the invention needs a patent.

In some cases, even if the IP is patentable, it might be beneficial to keep it as a trade secret to avoid infringements. Therefore, designing a strategy is also based on the industry in which the firm is operating.

Types of Patent Strategies

Patent strategies can be broadly classified as offensive and defensive. The choice among these two depends on the size of the company and the demands of the industry in which the firm operates.

Offensive Patent Strategy

Implementing an offensive patent strategy is expensive. Therefore, larger organizations that function in a competitive environment avail it. This particular strategy involves building barriers to keep competitors at bay, thereby protecting your proprietary technologies. The best way to use an offensive strategy is to file patents as soon as possible to gain the rights.

Filing as well as maintaining records of a large number of applications and further nurturing the patents obtained is quite exorbitant. However, these patents can be sold or licensed out to derive additional income. An offensive patent strategy can also be utilized to demonstrate the innovations to markets and industries.

Defensive Patent Strategy

Firms use defensive patent strategy to ensure practical implementation of innovations. The filing amount and fees which we spend for maintenance are negligible. However, under this strategy, a company cannot license patents for extra income.

The motive of this strategy is to keep the technological advancement out of competitor’s hands. A company seeks patent protection not for exploiting the innovation itself but to prevent other firms from exploiting it. Sometimes, coupling of a defensive strategy with a strong trade secret portfolio helps for greater protection.

Private Sector Strategy vs Public Sector Strategy

Private and public sectors are regarded as complementary counterparts in the industrial setup. Yet different objects drive them. This, in turn, propels the patent strategy of each instrument. The private sector’s sole motive is profit maximization. Such organizations respond to the demand of the market and strive to live up to the expectations of shareholders who invest in them.

Therefore, their strategy incorporates both offensive and defensive streaks. And, their patent portfolio consists of a series of patents having narrowly-drafted claims. This is done for expanding territory and heightening profits. Some of the biggest Multinational Companies (MNCs) rely on this strategy.

Similarly, the public sector has the responsibility of providing public goods. Their attention restricts to local, regional and national welfare since they perform within domestic boundaries. The patents drafted have broader claims enclosing a key technology that might expand development. They even license out their patents since wider dissemination maximizes social usefulness.

Conclusion

Exploring the best way to build and protect a patent portfolio as per the desired target requires creativity, innovation and rigorous knowledge of the product lines. The above discussion illustrates the importance of the nature and extent of a patent strategy. Every company is unique, and we cannot follow a single strategy during the various phases of a business cycle. Firms that allow sufficient time and research to develop a patent strategy are more likely to capitalize on greater rewards in the future.

-The Editorial Team

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