The Competitive Advantage of a Patent Portfolio
The identification and protection of technical and design innovation is a critical challenge to innovative businesses. If this challenge is met, it leads to the acquisition and maintenance of competitive advantage.
Patents are grants of exclusive rights which allow inventors to exclude others from making, using, or selling their innovations.
Patents are often the most valuable assets of highly innovative ventures. Patents have served as the capital basis for highly successful joint ventures and have protected innovative businesses from competition from larger businesses.
U.S. Patents are obtained through an application process within the Patent and Trademark Office called, not surprisingly, “patent prosecution.” This process is very specialized: examination by the PTO is conducted by a trained examiner who often has technical training in the types of inventions he examines.
Patents are awarded by each country. Various treaties exist which allow inventors to file applications for various patents throughout the world, however, the cost of obtaining patents, maintaining them and enforcing them requires patent strategies be created which complement business strategies.
A broad range of “innovations” are subject to patent protection. Businesses often have a broad range of innovation which forms the basis for their profitable operation. Within this broad innovation base a number of inventions exist which may be most effectively protected by patents. The decision of what to protect by patent and what to protect by other means depends upon a number of factors, which must be carefully considered in order to develop an effective patent strategy.
Regular procedures for creating “innovation property” can be employed to optimize the degree to which a business can protect its creative efforts, and increase the value of investments in innovation.