Michael Jaeger

Tech companies should shop for patents to bolster their portfolios

Tech companies are being advised to seek out opportunities to buy patents that could strengthen their portfolios and deliver value in the future, according to intellectual property experts at Withers & Rogers.

Many innovation-led businesses are already taking steps to protect their inventions by securing patent protection. However, relatively few participate in patent buying events or look for opportunities to acquire unwanted IP assets from other businesses, in order to bolster their portfolios.

According to Michael Jaeger, partner and patent attorney, specialising in the fields of consumer electronics, telecoms and medical devices at intellectual property firm, Withers & Rogers, this is a missed opportunity. He said:

“In fast-developing areas of research and development, it is increasingly important for businesses to stay one step ahead of the market by ensuring their intellectual property portfolio is robust enough to protect them against potential infringement claims, whilst enhancing their commercial potential.

“In order to achieve this, businesses should be on the lookout for patents to buy. Doing so could prevent these patents from falling into the hands of competitors, who could file infringement actions against them at a later date. It could also strengthen their asset portfolio in a specific area of research, which may not be of market value now, but could become immensely valuable in five years’ time.”

There are many ways to find patents to acquire. Patent buying events, such as the IP3 event organised by Allied Security Trust (AST), offer easy access to information about bundles of patents, which are grouped according to their technological focus. This year’s IP3 event, which is inviting offers from 9 - 20 July 2018, features patents in eight categories: artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, automotive, blockchain, internet-connected devices, smart home, software and communications. In addition, patent brokerage firms can help companies to locate and obtain patents in their area of technology.

Businesses could also undertake patent research to identify the threads of some historic patent filing activity, which may have come to nothing at the time, but could be picked up and used to protect some fresh innovation activity. In some cases, businesses may wish to consider ‘defensive patenting’, which involves holding patents with no intention of enforcing them, unless a competitor comes after them with a patent suit.

“There is a tendency for smaller, innovation-led businesses to think global patent-buying events are intended for larger corporates. While this is true to some extent, smaller businesses should also take a look.

“Many companies have found that buying patents speculatively in this way can support their strategic objectives by enhancing their commercial potential, whilst mitigating the risk of litigation,” concluded Michael Jaeger.

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