In today’s market, the value of most companies is found in intangible assets, their intellectual property. It is the driving force of our massive global economy. You could say IP is the business itself. Managing a patent during its lifetime can cost a company upwards a hundred thousand dollars, or more. Large conglomerates like Google spend far more money managing many patents in their portfolio. Such companies can even hold tens of thousands of patents, and managing them isn’t easy. Here are some tips to help you with your portfolio.
1. Identify the complementary intellectual property
Core assets can grow and develop as you figure out your company’s goals. Identify which patents complement each other and focus on furthering your strategic goals with them. With clear goals, you can see where proper investments can be placed.
If two patents serve similar purposes and complement each other, you’ll find that developing both of them can improve your odds of a better final product. Give direction to your development teams and make sure they innovate efficiently.
2. Use it as a barrier of entry
A well-managed portfolio can and should be used as a barrier of entry for other companies into your line of work. A patent for the main product is mandatory, but consider additional patents for similar useful variations of the main one.
This will prevent other companies from making, selling or importing the product or anything similar within the protected space. Thus, a well-protected space is created and other companies are barred from entry into your relevant field in the market, ensuring your success.
3. Corner the international market
You should always be on the lookout for foreign markets. Mapping them is essential for an international corporation to prosper. Check out potential partners or competitors and where they are applying for their patents. Some countries have different laws regarding what can be patented so you should take this into consideration. India, for example, does not allow patents for business methods or software.
An international patent might not even be necessary for some places. If there is no international market for your desired product, then no patent filing is necessary. The same applies if the invention isn’t among any of your major products. Carefully asses your plans and strategize for the international market.
4. Evaluate property data regularly
There is no use in managing your portfolio if you do not check the performance of different products. An adequate understanding of your intellectual property and how it is doing in certain markets will give insight into what to change for the better. If a product is not performing well despite significant investment, you can consider dropping it or changing it in some way, for example.
Increase funding if you feel that a product could be doing better with more investment. Consult your development team for the patent and find out what kind of change is necessary for it to perform better in current markets.
5. Manage litigation risk
With thousands of lawsuits being filed yearly, protecting yourself from patent litigation is the key part of proper IP portfolio management. Patent trolls can and will try to buy patents that might be similar to your ideas and then strictly use them to sue you. Most of the patent litigation is still done by competitors, usually by incumbents that try to inhibit the growth of startups.
Having a strong portfolio will serve you well in avoiding unnecessary lawsuits. It can also provide ammo for countersuing a competitor or patent troll if need be. It’ll make them think twice before coming for you in a court of law.
6. Try the indirect approach
Your first instinct might be to protect your intellectual property directly, but there are other methods to solidify and strengthen your portfolio. Try patenting an associated process instead. If you can’t patent the product, try patenting the way it is made, the end result is similar. Enhancement protection will let you patent intermediary versions of the patent or further enhanced versions that you make.
An extension can move your invention into new areas without worrying that you might lose patent ownership. This is good for when you want to add a new product line to your trademark registration. Strategize against your competitors. It’s possible to predict where they are going with a patent and you can swoop in with your own idea that is very similar to theirs.
Managing a lot of IPs can prove to be a significant undertaking. A lot of executives lack the knowledge and tools to maximize returns on investments when managing a portfolio. It is an expensive endeavor but it can provide an edge and a tactical benefit in today’s competitive market. It is essential for a company’s strategy to have well defined corporate goals, and what you do with your intellectual property should reflect this.