The Take Away: Those seeking to generate market-making patent coverage for new innovations must recognize that patent coverage should focus not on how the problem is solved but instead on the benefits provided to the customer. Most patent coverage is directed to a specific solution to a customer need that is characterized in the form of an invention. Patents that cover only one solution to a broad customer need will permit competitors to solve the same customer need with a non-infringing substitute product, thus leaving the patent holder with no legal recourse against their competitor. On the other hand, market-making patent coverage focuses on the benefits provided to the customer, which means that competitors cannot sell the same benefit. Accordingly, patent coverage that emphasizes benefits over features will make it more difficult for competitors to provide the same solution to the customer. Innovators must
While postings have not been frequent in 2013, I have nonetheless been very busy with my IP Strategy counseling and speaking engagements. In 2014, I will commit to being much more diligent in updating my blog with relevant content for those seeking to use IP and intangible asset strategy to create and maximize business value. In the meantime, here is the deck from IP Strategy Overview I presented at a conference of innovators at Georgia Tech's College of Architecture in October 2013. The summary is below the presentation. (To view the Slideshare presentation you view the full post in IP Asset Maximizer Blog.) This deck includes the basic overview of IP (patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets). However, this presentation goes beyond the usual lawyer-generated content to highlight not only the positive business aspects of IP, but also to give a reality check as to the likely ROI of investment in protection.
A new client has asked for some information on how consideration patents and IP at the front end of the innovation/product development process can enhance business value. Readers of this blog might find this material informative, also. This is a published article from Innovation Management article entitled "How to Improve Innovation ROI with Early Stage Patent Expertise." In this article, I discuss how IP can help orient innovation teams in a direction that can enhance value capture. Practical steps to implement such a program into innovation processes is included in this article. Here is a YouTube video that explains my process simply. In short, including IP at the front end of a company's innovation process allows one to enhance their calibration with respect to the IP rights of others to better ensure that they will achieve the desired ROI on
"Traction is the new IP." This emerging mantra results in many startup CEOs eschewing the traditional path of patent and other forms of IP protection. While I am aware of no rigorous studies conducted to date, anecdotal information indicates that startup entrepreneurs are increasingly saying no to patents, and likely to other forms of IP. Instead, these entrepreneurs first seek to validate their business models and then follow business plans focused on generating recurring revenue, often avoiding altogether the step of protecting their business idea or product with IP. From my own interactions with startup CEO's, I can confirm that the pendulum has swung very far to the "IP is worthless" side of things. But, is this emerging conventional wisdom actually correct? There is no doubt that over the years far too many startup company resources have been spent on patents and other forms of IP protection (many of
One of the first questions start up entrepreneurs usually ask sounds something like this: “Is it worth the effort and expense to get a patent on this business idea?” In countless conversations with clients in my years as a patent attorney, I could usually articulate multiple reasons why the person seeking to to start a new business venture unequivocally needed to file a patent application as soon as possible. Moreover, I could recite a litany of ills that could follow from failing to follow my advice. Following this conversation, I could typically expect a fat check from the client, whereupon I would dutifully draft strong patent on the subject invention. It was a nice living. These days, I work as a startup technology company CEO and look at patents much differently than I did in the past: as a consumer of patent services myself, I now examine patenting issues from
In the time that the Apple vs. Samsung patent fight has been underway, we have been inundated with an untold number of articles on how Apple is stifling innovation in the SmartPhone world. (Haven't seen these: just do a Google search for "Apple stif . . ." you don't have to type any more than this--the search auto-completes itself.) I often take a contrarian view from that stated by most "expert" commentators--be they members of the press or actual patent professionals, and the Apple v. Samsung verdict is no exception: I think the result actually demonstrates that the patent system is working just fine in this instance, thank you very much. But how can this be when Samsung got hit with more than a BILLION US DOLLAR jury verdict last week?!? Doesn't the fact that Samsung could not make a product without infringing Apple's multitude of patents mean that
A recent article in TechCrunch indicates that entrepreneurs are less likely to file patents than in the past. Nonetheless, there remain countless patent lawyers and agents who will argue convincingly that an entrepreneur must obtain a patent in order to succeed and who will take their $5-15K to file a darned good patent application that won't provide them a bit of business value in the long run. Even worse, the resources expended in the patent process robs the entrepreneur of needed cash that will allow them to gain customers, and of their most valuable asset: time. But when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail--which is why those still in the business of writing patent applications will continue to make their case to entrepreneurs (and investors) who lack the domain expertise to
For the past several months, I have been at the helm of Evgentech, a startup company with game-changing battery charging methodology. Our technology was developed by young men who did not come from a traditional engineering background and, even then, their discovery was a serendipitous result of the co-founders’ recognition of a new principle stemming from investigations initially directed toward something wholly different from battery charging. Put simply, Evgentech’s technology would not have been found if anyone--outsider or not--would have been looking for it. We are now bringing to market the first truly new battery charging paradigm in over 100 years. To put things in perspective, with Evgentech's technology, you will be able to charge your batteries in a fraction of the time possible with existing battery charging methodologies, which means you can charge your iPhone to "full" in as little as 20 minutes, as compared to the about 3-5
In a recent post on his 15 Inno blog, Open Innovation guru Stefan Lindegaard presented the ostensibly nonsensical hypothesis: R & D leaders are often a "threat" to innovation. Stefan's post resulted from an interaction he had with a senior R & D person at a mid-sized tech company, who apparently adhered to the outdated notion that he and his scientists and engineers know more about the company's business than anyone else could possibly even try to know. As a result, this R & D leader believes that they cannot maximize (or even create) value for their organization by looking outside the confines of their existing R & D infrastructure to solve the company's pressing business problems. Reading this, R & D professionals might likely think: "What's this guy smoking? How can R & D be a threat to innovation?! We're the reason this company has any innovation at all.
The threat of false marking lawsuits has garnered much attention in the IP business press in the last couple of years. Companies of all sizes have been hit with qui tam actions (that is, suits brought by an individual or company on behalf of the US government to right wrongs done to the government, not the individual) where the basis of the action is the mis-marking of a product with an incorrect or expired patent number. Like a gold rush, these lawsuits have resulted in a number of legal entrepreneurs seeking out products that are incorrectly marked--usually by identification of expired patents, which is an easy thing to find--and their bringing suit against the offending companies. Indeed, there were over 500 false marking lawsuits filed in 2010, making this cause of action seem almost like a