5 tips for managing your patent portfolio

What are the best techniques for developing and maintaining your patent portfolio?

Obtaining patent protection requires investment both in terms of time and money, so to help you manage your patent portfolio more efficiently we have set out five tips below.

1. Develop an effective patent management process

Initially, you should identify the commercial goals that you are trying to achieve by seeking patent protection.  This will help you to ensure that any investment in patents and patent applications is aligned with the commercial aims of the business and more likely to provide a good return on investment.

This is probably the most important tip of the five presented here and is the one you should spend the most time thinking about as it will guide your business’ entire approach to patents.

A patent management process can be formulated as part of a wider IP management process for your business.  We have further information on this in our article: 5 steps to developing an effective IP management process.

2. Educate yourself and others in your business on patents

To maximise the value of patents to your business you need to ensure the business is aligned with the patent management process but also that your staff understand what their role is in ensuring the business takes full advantage of available patent protection.

For people involved in research or new product development, this means understanding what can be patented, how to identify inventions and the best way to make these inventions known to the rest of the business as well as any rewards they receive for developing an invention that leads to a patent.

For people in leadership or management positions, this means understanding the potential value of patents to the business as well as the expected cost of growing and maintaining a patent portfolio in addition to how to seek patent protection in a cost-effective manner.

In addition to the above, it is important that everyone is aware that an invention must be kept confidential until a patent application directed to it has been filed.

3. Monitor your competitors

Irrespective of whether your business has a large portfolio or is just considering how a patent may be useful in the future, it is always sensible to be aware of how your competitors are using the patent system.

This will help you to understand areas of technology that you may have previously overlooked for patent protection as well as areas where your competitors are actively engaged in research.

Patent rights provide value to your business by providing an effective monopoly for an invention.  So, if one of your competitors launches a product or service that incorporates your invention, you need to be aware of this so you can act quickly to stop them and reduce potential damage to your business.

The monitoring of competitors also helps to manage risk within your business as you can ensure you are aware of the level of risk related to infringing a patent of a competitor.

Resource: Watch our patent searching webinar to learn ways to monitor your competitors

4. Hold regular reviews of your patent management process and patent portfolio

The technological and business landscape is constantly changing and so regular reviews should be performed to:

  • ensure alignment of your patent process with commercial goals;
  • change inefficient or ineffective management practices; and
  • prune patents from your portfolio that are no longer adding value.

You may also wish to read our article on 5 ways to reduce patent costs as the points made should be considered when reviewing patent management practices and patent portfolios.

5. Have your patent attorney do the hard work for you

The patent process is long and complicated, and patent applications should be carefully drafted to ensure they are commercially useful.  A patent attorney is familiar with the patent process and can help to maximise the value of any patent application you decide to file.

Having regular discussions with your patent attorney can also help you to effectively manage your patent portfolio and achieve the other outcomes mentioned above.  For example a patent attorney can:

  • advise what is practically achievable for your business and the likely costs of seeking and maintaining patent protection;
  • draft and prosecute commercially useful patent applications;
  • identify and analyse competitor patent portfolios and other related activity;
  • conduct clearance searching to establish a risk that your activity is infringing a patent;
  • predict upcoming costs and expected expiry of patents in your portfolio; and
  • provide guidance and education on the patent system and how to identify inventions

If you would like help from a professional in managing your portfolio, please get in touch to speak to one of our patent attorneys.

Wilson Gunn