Dallas patent attorney Chris Miller explores the question of which is more valuable to a portfolio of intellectual property assets — patent quality or patent quantity — in a new article appearing on the Dallas Business Journal website.
While strategies for filing patent applications and managing issued patents can differ between industries and even stakeholders, recent trends have revealed that corporations or individuals hoping to maximize the value of their portfolio solely by driving up the number of issued patents may be adversely affecting the value of their portfolio. Even worse, they could be adding liabilities to it.
As substantial amounts of time, money and other resources go into developing technologies that could form the basis for a new patent, one might say that the same effort should be carried through the entire patent application process to ensure the final issued patent protects this investment, making the patent a valuable asset in and of itself. Some patent filing practices, however, suggest that patents are viewed as commodities that have similar values across similar industries or technology areas.
Little credence is given to the strategy or substance of the patent application itself, in other words. Instead, the commodity patent filer attempts to protect his or her substantial investment in technology with the cheapest patent they can obtain.
For example, one way commodity patent filers increase patent numbers is to spread inventive ideas across multiple applications. This may water down the applications to the point where none of them will become issued patents. If any do issue, they risk becoming the targets for an Inter Partes Review proceeding that could invalidate it. If that happens, patent owners will have wasted money on both the application process and their IPR defense, not to mention the lost revenue that a well-written patent could have brought in.
Miller suggests that these new developments in the law point to a greater need for high-quality patent filing practices. “If patents are harder to obtain and easier to invalidate,” he says, “stakeholders should consider placing more emphasis on the content and strategy of their patent filings rather than the quantity of the filings.”
Patent owners looking to increase something should try increasing the number of patent claims in their application. “Including an increased number of patent claims with variations in language and scope will also require a more robust patent description for support, all of which will provide a number of benefits to stakeholders who desire to obtain and maintain valid patents in their portfolio.”