The so-called smartphone patent wars have brought considerable attention to intellectual asset management as leading names like Apple, Samsung, Motorola and many more continue to employ a variety of elaborate offensive and defensive tactics. While some would suggest that the resultant increase in litigation has hampered innovation, the lessons learned could transcend their specialized setting and help inventors in the green technology sector pursue smarter growth strategies.
For better or worse, the smartphone saga has underscored the importance of investing in one's portfolio early and often. In a recent guest column for Green Biz, attorney Andrew Riley suggested that startup companies - which comprise a healthy percentage of the green technology space - must be particularly diligent and strategic in their IP management plans. Since few have the capital to pursue ambitious acquisitions that larger companies like Google and IBM may, portfolios must be cultivated more organically.
As Riley suggested, companies must understand the differential value of their inventions to prioritize their most promising ideas from initial invention disclosure management through to licensing negotiations. For those that don't, promising projects can quickly get mired in protracted disputes pushed by companies with superior legal resources and dissuade potential investors.
Finally, green tech companies must acknowledge the diversity of portfolio management options available. According to Riley, filing and defending a mixture of utility and design patents is often required for comprehensive coverage of the innovative ideas and products that a startup's viability may hinge upon. Additionally, savvy licensing strategies can help companies keep revenue flowing in during leaner quarters when attention has been diverted toward developing the next best thing.