My start-up has a small portfolio of about a dozen patents covering our core technology. One of those patents has the 11.5 year maintenance fee coming due in the next six months, but this particular patent covers an alternative technical path we never really exploited. We are close to a liquidity event, but cash is very tight right now even though we do have products on the market based on our patented technologies (just not this one). I hate to part with the money. Should we bother to renew this?
Should I Renew
Dear Should I Renew,
Suck it up! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Don’t blow it now. Your patents protect your monopoly. Without them, the buyer does not need you. Even though this one patent isn’t technically in use, allowing one patent to expire in a small portfolio is a relatively large change, and it could make the buyer pause to consider the quality of your other patents. Consider also whether the patent is blocking competitors from using the alternative technology to compete against you. After all, if your patent teaches the person having ordinary skill in the art how to make and use the invention, as every valid patent must, then you are providing your competitors with a clear path to compete against you. Yes, the 11.5 year maintenance fee may seem like a lot when cash is tight, but it’s still only a few thousand bucks. Why jeopardize an eight figure sale over a maintenance fee?