I came across a patent this week covering Invention Disclosures, entitled “Methods and systems for managing invention disclosures“. From a Patent Manager point of view, it is a good reminder that the patent office itself is a valuable resource for getting background on almost any topic, even the patent process itself.
For smaller companies, who are in their infancy in building their own processes, it can give unique insight into the structure and procedures the large entities and multinationals have to move ideas from engineers into patents. Generally speaking my experience in both SME’s and Multinationals, and academic research, the following seems to hold true: Firm size and culture are factors the average type and quality of patent application filed, as seen in patent breadth and depth of coverage. Small firms tend to file wider and more all encompassing application whereas large firms that have a robust process tend to file more narrow and technology specific applications.
Such a robust process always produces one key question:
Does the process encourage Patent Quantity, or Patent Quality?
Looking at the cited patent above and the process described it is fairly easy to see why – potential inventors are queried on a large range of topics related to the idea, from economic to competitive market value, which one can presume gives some weight to the final decision. In large firms by the time this market data is evident the project is typically far enough along that technical work has been done to scope the technology to a specific market segment and technology value. Simply mirroring the project gives patents that are product specific, which will only enable a strict area of technical protection which is not the same as full market protection. The tipping point between market and product protection is usually made by a defined Patent Strategy.
I give a brief outline here as to some of the building blocks that will generate a strong Patent Strategy. In the next few posts I’ll dig into the 3 high level points that can drive a successful business strategy that encompasses IP.
- Patent Quality = Alignment with Business + Legally Enforceable +Economic Value
- Patent Culture: Creation of a culture-driven IP strategy.
- IP Vision: First mover advantage of IP where the future market and technology intersect.