New Year’s Patent Resolutions: Bulk Up Or Trim The Fat? A Humble Suggestion Is To Try Both

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Long term IP planning is something that too often goes neglected at most companies. Sure, you may give your IP department a prosecution budget each year, which they use to pay for new patent applications, and ongoing prosecution costs (responding to office actions, filing appeals etc). Of course, as I mentioned in my last column, this strategy could just end up getting your company an arsenal consisting mainly of hundreds of low quality patents.

Perhaps the most puzzling patent-related expense that goes missing from many long-term IP strategies is the payment of maintenance fees. At any given moment, knowing which patents you own, it’s remarkably easy to find out how much you would owe in fees (assuming you kept all of your patents) over the next fiscal year, or, perhaps, a five year period. Advanced planning gives you the opportunity to prioritize patents that are important to your business and gives you time to figure out what to do with ones you feel you can let go.

Less puzzling, but equally missing from most IP strategies is a patent acquisition budget. Rather than simply filing dozens of patent applications that will sit for two or three years before examination, and possibly two or three more before finally issuing, very few companies even consider the prospect of acquiring patents in the transactional marketplace that can help support their overall business strategy.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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