Patents vs Trade Secrets: Choosing the right path for intellectual property protection
In the complex landscape of IP, the choice between patents and trade secrets depends on various factors such as…
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.
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.
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.
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.
The technological and business landscape is constantly changing and so regular reviews should be performed to:
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.
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:
If you would like help from a professional in managing your portfolio, please get in touch to speak to one of our patent attorneys.