Most technology developers think of patents as offensive tools, meant to prevent competitors from knocking off their innovations. Patents can also serve as defensive tools, especially when the innovation you’ve developed is useful, but turns out not to be the best for your company’s product line. Securing protection for alternative ways of carrying out your improvements can be worthwhile, particularly when they leave your competitors with fewer design-around options.
Cover as many alternative ways of carrying out your improvement as possible to achieve the protection that will block your competitors from deriving benefits from your innovative concepts.
First and foremost, patent portfolio strategies should focus on patents that will cover innovations that become incorporated in products that wind up being sold. But alternative embodiments of those innovations can find their way into competitors’ products. For example, your particular innovation might provide the “best” way of carrying out a function, but a competitor could still use your information in a less preferred but “good enough” way to improve their product to better compete with yours. Your patent strategy should therefore seek to cover as many alternative ways of carrying out your improvement as possible to achieve the protection that will block your competitors from deriving benefits from your innovative concepts.
A defensive patent strategy also involves recognizing the geographic limitations of patent protection. Patents are only enforceable in the jurisdictions in which they’re granted. So a company’s approach to foreign patent protection should consider how and to what extent foreign competitors could design around the company’s principal commercial embodiment. If viable alternatives exist, then defensive patent protection for them should be considered as well.
The attorneys at Cook Alex have been assisting technology companies and innovators for many years in formulating offensive and defensive patent strategies. They equip their clients with the U.S. and foreign protection that will ward off competitors in their most important markets.
Contact us for a free 20-minute consultation, to learn more about how to secure protection for your patents or ideas, anytime.