Patents – The Potential Beyond Your Products

by: Colin Gallant

If you are new to patents you might be surprised to learn that your patents are not primarily concerned with your products! In fact they have very little to do with them. Instead, they are concerned with your invention. This distinction has some very interesting business implications.

Right to Exclude

Patent rights are not passkeys or passports for products, they are actually something more. They are intellectual property in an invention, wherever it may be embodied. What is actually granted is the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling products or services which embody your invention. Naturally, the right to exclude others protects your products by forbidding your competitors from incorporating (and profiting from) your invention in their products.  But that’s not all.

As property rights, patents are yours to enforce, license and sell no matter where you find your invention embodied and whether or not you include the invention in your own products (or manufacture any products at all).  Once you understand that your patents really are independent from your products, you may begin questioning the view that you are only in the business of producing products. Have you considered that you might also be in the business of generating inventions, producing valuable intellectual property and managing important patent assets?

The Business of Managing Patents

It’s quite a shift in mindset! Generating inventions and applications for patents requires broader strategic analysis than just looking at the products you happen to be selling.  Assessing the value of your patents depends more on the product market share of competitors and potential infringers than on your own product’s market share. Managing your patent portfolio involves paying attention to the inventions covering your competitors’ important products and markets rather than simply on the inventions included in your products.

Once you begin to see the real potential of patents, it may start to change the way you look at, and operate, your entire business!

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