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Patents have become increasingly valuable assets in the business portfolios of both large and small entities. For many companies - those in the pharmaceutical and bioscience fields being prime examples - patent assets represent the majority of their market value. However, with the increasing costs associated with global patenting and R&D activities, protecting the fruits of a company’s innovation has to be done with a business focus or, in other words, within the context of a strategy.
For further information, please contact our head of IP Management and Strategy, Fred Pearson
A battle plan
A company’s patent strategy can be likened to a battle plan, having objectives and tactics for achieving success in the marketplace. The objectives of a patent strategy are derived from, and hence support, the overall business focus of a company. The strategy should therefore take account of the current product/market portfolio, plans to innovate new/improved products, expansion into new markets, and the competitive environment. The patent strategy should also take into account any technology development strategy from which innovation will be driven.
The tactics to be employed may include: patenting; non-patenting (i.e. maintaining an innovation as a trade secret); design around; opposition; infringement and patent/technology licensing. The chosen tactics will depend on the defined objectives of the patent strategy. Once the latter is derived it should be kept under constant review, in a dynamic process (as shown below). Clearly, any change in one of the interlinked strategies - business, technology or patent - will affect change in the others.
Benefits of a patent strategy
The derivation of a patent strategy has many benefits. Once a strategy is in place, patent assets can be created cost effectively and support the business objectives. Working towards the same business objectives will help to improve the relationship between scientist (inventor) and attorney, thereby avoiding a "disturbing and costly" cognitive friction (see: A Convergence of Science and Law, National Academy Press, 2001, available from Amazon by clicking here).
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