Creating a strategy for your organization’s intellectual property can be critical for both emerging and mature companies alike. Above all else, a patent strategy can create scope for an organization. Similar to what a business plan provides for the company as a whole, a patent strategy provides a “bigger picture” view for what the patent looks like now and perhaps more importantly, what it will look like in the future. This view enables the organization to leverage the patent continuously and create sustainable competitive advantage. Additionally, for emerging companies, a well-thought out patent strategy can be a signal of commitment to investors or stakeholders.
Developing a patent strategy is in many ways similar to a business plan, not just in terms of its intent (as mentioned above) but also in terms of development. You’ll want to explore external and internal considerations like monetization, the competitive landscape, and other familiar components. Just keep in mind that a patent strategy should focus more granularly on your organization’s patent portfolio, instead of the business as a whole. So what things should be taken into consideration while developing your patent strategy?
Like any asset, it’s important to be explicit about what you’re trying to accomplish with your patents. For each patent your organization owns, set short, mid, and long term goals to help frame its lifespan and drive your organization’s activity.
Planning for monetization
It’s not enough to say you plan to monetize a patent; while developing a patent strategy, get specific about monetization. What are the costs associated with monetization? When will you recoup those costs and how? The more specific you can get in this area, the more you can be prepared.
Determining patent ownership
As you begin to think about your organization’s patent strategy growth, you will need to determine what types of patents you need to develop in-house, what patents you can buy, or what you can license from a partner. Weigh the costs associated with each option against the value they bring to the organization.
Playing the patent field
Like most strategies, you need to consider both offensive and defensive plays when developing a patent strategy. As you acquire or develop patents, evaluate whether this is something that your organization is purely using to add value to core offerings or if its main function is to hamper competition.
Evaluating past experiences
In organizations with multiple patents in their portfolio, keep track of what has worked well and not-so-well, so you can use this knowledge in the future. Even for emerging companies working with their very first patent, explore case studies and online articles to try to mine this type of knowledge.
Every process in an organization should have performance checks built in, and a patent strategy is no different. Periodically review your patent portfolio to determine where your organization is seeing the most value and where might be improperly balanced.
Understanding patent law
Patent law has some intricacies, especially for first-time patent owners. However, understanding patent law can help you build a patent strategy with specific considerations like application dates or global patent concerns. Just make sure you can recognize when in the process you may need help from a patent attorney.
Assessing industry patents
Having a grasp of what patents already exist in your industry is key to the success of your patent. It will allow you to evaluate:
- Competitors (e.g. How closely are the competing? What is their differentiator? What moves are they making?)
- Potential partners (e.g. Is this an organization you can collaborate with to add value to your own offering?)
- Your own portfolio (e.g. What else can we be doing to make our offering better?)
Developing a patent strategy is an ongoing process for mature and emerging companies. For mature companies, evaluating how intellectual property can work together to add value, is key for sustaining competitive advantage. For emerging companies, a patent strategy can help create a roadmap for a new offering and offer insight into how to beat competitors to the market. For more information on how emerging companies can leverage intellectual property, access the eBook: 4 Ways Emerging Companies Can Leverage IP for Success.