Companies, both big and small, take a variety of approaches when it comes to protecting intellectual property. Some companies focus on product development and marketing with little focus on protecting intellectual assets, while others narrowly protect their own products or planned products.
The most successful companies, however, develop a thought-out intellectual property strategy that supports the company's overall business plan while applying a realistic budget.
When developing a comprehensive intellectual property strategy, a company should consider the reasons for protecting intellectual property in the first place, including the need to protect income streams and recover investment in product development, the desire to obtain a competitive advantage, the benefits of fencing in competitors' positions, and the need to enhance equity value and impress or attract investors.
There isn't a one-size fits all approach to intellectual property portfolio management. Software companies are going to have different considerations than companies with retail consumer products and those will be different than the strategies for service providers. Leading companies will leverage their intellectual property assets to achieve their strategic goals and maximize value.
Sometimes, upon careful examination, a company may decide that its products are not protectable through patents or that there is no advantage to patenting. In other cases, using trade secret law to protect innovation is a better approach than filing patents.
In other instances, developing a robust patent portfolio that includes both defensive patents that cover the company's products and offensive patents that protect what competitors might do to circumvent the company's defensive patents is the key to success. Smart companies simultaneously use this combination of offense and defense-swords and shields-to develop a robust intellectual property portfolio and to establish and protect their market positions.