Does your company have any patents? Do you wonder if your company may have additional patentable ideas? If so, a patent portfolio review can be an essential step in managing your company’s intellectual property and patent portfolios. A patent portfolio review might consider:
A patent portfolio encompasses all the issued patents, patent applications, and development ideas a company has. Many companies don’t realize how vital their overall patent portfolio is for both protecting their intellectual property rights and monetizing their ideas. Patent attorneys work with patent owners and inventors every day and can provide valuable insight into ways to maximize your company’s patent portfolio.
Chances are that if you are able to obtain a U.S. patent, you also might have been eligible for patent protection throughout the world, as long as you took action early enough. In an ever-expanding global supply chain network, it is no longer enough to secure just a U.S. patent and believe your product is safe from patent infringement and copycats. Strategically determining where (which countries) to obtain patent protection is a critical part of patent portfolio management, requiring experienced patent attorneys who know how to analyze the costs and benefits associated with obtaining patents around the world. Such patent portfolio management must consider manufacturing, shipping, and other logistical aspects of getting a product to the market, regardless of the technology or application of your products.
Patents must also be renewed and maintained through fees in each country where you own a patent. These dates occur at different times during a patent’s life, and if they are not maintained, patent owners will lose the valuable patent protections they worked so hard to obtain. Companies can utilize a patent attorney to monitor these dates and take the necessary steps to maintain those patents.
Also crucial to a company are the opportunities associated with monetizing those patents through monopoly, licensing, or sometimes even selling the patent. While a company is likely in the best position to understand who might wish to enter into licensing agreements to use valuable patents, a patent attorney can often provide insight into the process and even provide alternative ideas as to which industries might be interested in a particular technology. Patent attorneys work every day across a wide range of industries and have an understanding of the needs in various technology fields. Leveraging this knowledge during a patent portfolio review often ends up expanding the opportunity for licensing patents into areas that a company may not have considered. Sometimes, a patent portfolio review may determine that a patent is no longer needed, which can provide a company an opportunity to sell the technology.
There are advantages and disadvantages to exclusive versus non-exclusive licensing, selling versus licensing, and even trade secret protection versus patenting. A patent attorney can provide critical insight into these discussions to help a client determine the best options available.
Ensuring your competitors are on notice that you have a patent is an important step in enforcing your patent rights. In order to obtain the full damages you may be owed for patent infringement, you have to prove that the infringer knew you had a patent that covered that product.
While it used to be necessary (and is often still recommended) to print your patent number on your product, those rules have changed to allow online listing of your patents. A patent portfolio review includes analyzing a company’s notice protocols and making necessary recommendations to ensure the maximum protection of your patent portfolio.
A patent portfolio review may also include analyzing your company’s internal business processes, from product development to sales, in order to ensure maximum intellectual property protection. Your company’s employee handbooks, internal operating procedures, annual reports, and even everyday e-mails can affect your ability to enforce your patent. Internal controls and proper employee training may need to be identified and instituted to protect patents and related intellectual property.
A patent attorney’s review of your patent portfolio could also result in identifying additional potential patents that you haven’t yet applied for. Often patents are written quite broadly, and in the course of doing business, additional features are discovered. A patent attorney can ask key questions of your company processes and products to determine if more narrowly drafted patents could benefit your company’s overall portfolio. The review may also reveal innovative products or processes that the company has that are eligible for patent protection but have not yet been identified.
The patent portfolio review process also often leads to broader intellectual property law questions that include trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and even privacy laws, which are continually changing.
The bottom line is that a patent portfolio review could result in helping your company grow by identifying key areas that allow you to take full advantage of the hard work you’ve put into developing products and patents. At a minimum, it will help prevent unwanted results such as expired patents, and ideally, it could result in financial benefits for your company. Contact us today for a portfolio review!