Relatively few patents end up being valuable for a client. This typically occurs because the business needs of the client changed during the time the patent application was pending. Historically, such non-aligned patent rights were ignored or allowed to lapse because no marketplace existed to allow the patentee to sell its unwanted patent rights. The unwanted patent, as well as the legal costs to obtain it, were considered unrecoverable sunk costs to the patentee. This is beginning to change with the recent introduction of technology marketplaces that post technology needs sought by corporate innovation groups. Patentees will be unlikely to capitalize on such opportunities without having someone "scout" the opportunities for them. Patent attorneys can serve as a type of technology scout for their clients. In preparing and drafting patent applications and in conducting opinion work for their clients, patent attorneys develop a comprehensive understanding of the properties and functionalities of their clients' products and technologies. This article discusses the successful Open Innovation-developed Magic Eraser(R) product from Procter and Gamble, and how it resulted from the work of a technology scout.
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