Posts Categorized: Patents in Business

One Example of When Taking a License Makes Sense

Licensing technology from other sources makes sense in several situations, even when the licensee does not practice the technology.

Remember that patents are merely business tools, and they are useful when they give your business an advantage over a competitor. Taking a license, even when your company may not currently infringe, may be appropriate in some cases.

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Patent Reward Systems – It’s Not About The Money

Patent reward systems are put in place by many companies to give employees an incentive to disclose their inventions and go through the patent process. Bosses like the idea because it gives them a way to recognize employees, especially those creative people who toil in obscurity in a lab. Employees like it because it is a true recognition for their contribution to the company. And they get paid.

A typical program may pay anywhere from nothing to $500 for merely submitting an invention disclosure, up to $1000 when an invention is submitted to the Patent Office as a patent application, and anywhere from $1000 to $5000 when the patent issues.

I have been on both sides of these programs. As an inventor and engineer at several companies, I have written many, many invention disclosures, some of which have turned into patents. As a patent attorney, I work with some inventors at larger companies who have submitted the disclosures. I bring a different perspective to this discussion.

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Building a Patent Thicket

One of my clients likes to describe patents as hyenas. A lone hyena can be easily frightened away, but a pack of hyenas can be very aggressive.

With one patent, a competitor or potential infringer has one thing to analyze, dissect, and find a way around. It may cost a little bit of money to analyze, but it is certainly a doable proposition.

With a dozen patents, the competitor’s workload is substantially increased to the point (hopefully) that it is cost prohibitive for the competitor to find work-arounds for every one of the dozen patents.

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Slowing Down Patent Issuance

There are many strategies and situations where slowing down the patent from issuing is an enormous benefit to the client. Personally, I take a very proactive approach to making the patent issue as late as possible where this is needed, such as filing a provisional application. I could not bear the thought of writing a sloppy patent application or intentionally filing claims are ambiguous or need a lot of work to clean up. I think it is reprehensible to intentionally and needlessly drag out prosecution by filing endless responses to Office actions, because it lines the pockets of the attorney without benefiting the client. I do think there are legitimate, low cost mechanisms that can extend the prosecution time to help the client get the most protection for the money spent.

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