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How Companies Select Inventions To Patent
With increasing competition and global expansion, the legal protection of inventions is gaining more emphasis. Companies are keen to protect their rights and build a robust Intellectual Property Rights portfolio that helps them gain a competitive advantage. But this clamor for exclusive rights comes at a hefty price tag. The R&D process, patent filing, and patent maintenance are all expensive activities that go into owning a patent. Companies, therefore, seek to select the finest invention that will offer maximum value to them. Below we discuss the screening process and considerations that a company adopts to choose the invention that deserves to be protected by a patent.
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Phases of a Patent-Based IP Asset
Three phases mark an invention’s journey to becoming an IP asset:
Phase 1: Selecting the Invention
Companies in the tech world are thronged with inventions waiting to be patented. Given the limited resources, however, it is imperative to filter out the ones that will prove most profitable and are in sync with the company’s goals and vision. The selection process adopted by the company included two types of analysis- IP analysis and Business analysis.
IP analysis is a series of activities undertaken to determine the patentability of the invention. It must meet the eligibility criteria of being novel, non-obvious, and commercially usable to be applicable for a patent.
To establish novelty a prior art search is conducted that discloses any previous references to the invention in public knowledge. This comes under the purview of patentability search which is a crucial component of the stage of IP Analysis.
Also known as novelty search, a patentability search determines if an invention qualifies for a patent. It identifies the patent or non-patent literature that may be relevant or related to the current invention. Specialized firms are often hired for the purpose of patentability search as it is a time-consuming process that needs expert intervention.
The aim of an IP Analysis is to realize if the costs involved in applying for a patent are justifiable. Once the patentability search is complete, the IP Strength Index is used to attribute the potency of an invention on the scale of high, low, and medium.
A high score in the index means that the invention has little or no prior art and achieves the criteria of novelty. On the contrary, a low score clearly nullifies the possibility of the invention securing a patent. A high IP Strength Index score does not automatically lead to the invention reaching the patent filing process. It must be approved in the Business Analysis as well in order to reach the next stage.
The Business or Market Analysis takes into account the trends, consumers, consumption patterns, and existing market products to evaluate the potential for success of the intended invention. It scrutinizes the market to identify key competitors, determine the scope of commercialization inherent in the invention and identify the gaps that the invention may fill.
The aim of this exercise is to assess if the product has a shot at success in the market so they may consider proceeding with the filing process. Business analysis also helps to strategize the development, application, and marketing of the new product.
Two types of market research may be undertaken prior to patent filing- quantitative research and qualitative research. Quantitative research is helpful in identifying the target base and the number of consumers who are likely to use the invention. Surveys, questionnaires etc., may be employed as a methodology. Qualitative research, on the other hand, assesses various factors and offers insight into the speculated commercial viability of the product. Similar to the IP Analysis, here too a Business Case Strength Index (BCSI) can be utilized to rank the inventions as high, medium, and low depending on their performance.
Phase 2: Filing the Patent
Once the invention to be patented is chosen, the next step is to approach the patent office for the filing process. Every country has their distinct rules for granting a patent. The patent granting process may sometimes take up to three years. It is important to be thorough in document submission and adhere to all the mandated rules so that your application is able to smoothly pass all stages of scrutiny without unnecessary delays.
Phase 3: Commercializing the Patent
Once an invention has been patented the inventor gets exclusive rights over its use. They can legally prohibit anyone from using or manufacturing the invention without permission. Licensing, cross-licensing, and selling are some of the means to commercialize a patent and earn revenue from it.
IP Management Strategies
The business requirements, size, industry position, and vision of a company decide its IP strategy. Julie Davis and Suzanne Harrison have formulated a five-level hierarchy pyramid describing the manner in which companies approach their IP management.
The focus for companies at this stage is defending their invention against infringement and ensuring they do not infringe on others’ inventions. High legal fees in filing and enforcement are common.
While the primary focus remains on to protect their innovation, companies now also look to find means to cut costs of IP creation and maintenance.
Once companies begin to license their patents or profit from them, they are said to be in this stage.
The fourth stage involves companies grasping the power of their IP and applying it across the spectrum of their business activities.
The final level is when companies understand the strategic importance of their IP assets and focus on value creation in the long run.
A healthy IP portfolio is the company’s key to a world of success and profitability. It can help them earn royalty revenue, attract more funding from investors, and add value to the company’s overall valuation. Selecting the right patents to embellish your portfolio is the foremost step in building desired IP assets. With the right tools and methodology of evaluation, this can easily be achieved and leveraged to strengthen your IP assets.
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- Patentability Search
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- Patent Portfolio Management
- Patent Monitoring
- Patent Infringement Search
- Patent Drafting & Illustrations
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