By | January 10, 2016

Patents As Corporate Strategy: an occasional journal

This blog is largely for my benefit: a reminder of lessons learned, ideas that pop-up and things I might have wanted to say at the time, but didn’t. However, I do have an audience in mind for this blog: a non-expert, but sophisticated, management that understands the importance of having an IP Strategy (generally) and a Patent Strategy (particularly). So, a lot of what I write, while grounded in my understanding IP law, will be light on legal citation and jargon. I do, however, want to make the following particularly clear:

I am not your lawyer. You are not my client. I have no intention of establishing a solicitor-client relationship. As such, I do not expect that you will (nor should you expect to) in any way rely on these posts as legal advice. If you are looking for legal advice, go retain a lawyer.

Throughout this blog, I’ll focus on a few recurring themes, which I think are important to developing, maintaining and adapting an effective corporate patent strategy. Two of these are:

  1. Patents as a corporate strategy ought to align with your business strategy generally. In fact, a patent strategy is integral to your business strategy; and,
  2. IP (such as patents) differs fundamentally from real or personal property. At first, this may seem too theoretical a distinction to have any practical application in a day to day business context, but a clear understanding of these differences is (in my opinion) critical to any effective patent strategy.

I’ll occasionally suggest “A Conversation You Might Want to Have” with your patent counsel, the outcome of which may help focus your patent strategy or highlight an issue that you’ve not considered previously.

Having gotten the preliminary stuff out of the way, let’s begin with a little terminology. There are ideas, patent applications, and patents. These terms should NEVER be used interchangeably. In short:

  • an IDEA with nothing more is just that, an IDEA;
  • a PATENT APPLICATION refers to a formal document that has been prepared and filed with a patent office. The IDEA may be formalised in the PATENT APPLICATION;
  • a PATENT refers to the grant document that results from having successfully prosecuted your PATENT APPLICATION before the patent office.

Use these terms incorrectly at your peril: at best, you will look uninformed, at worst you will lose credibility. In a future post I’ll explore these terms in greater detail.

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