Portfolio Development Strategies For Industrial Firms

Patents are a critical element of a company’s business strategy and can operate as insurance to protect investment in new product development. One strategy is to have engineers and scientists working in the company submit invention disclosure when they believe a new invention has been made. While this is a standard practice, it may not always drive strategic patent filings specifically tied to the business investment in new products. An additional strategy that may be used is to drive patent filings more from the business perspective that is more tied to the marketing and business strategy considering where competitive activity is expected. This approach is more appropriately terms a portfolio development approach, and can lead to higher value patents that better protect strategic business directions.
As engineers and scientists tend to focus more on the scientific advancement necessary to form an invention, intellectual property specialists can assist in leading mining sessions with the engineering and marketing teams to help drive invention disclosures better tied to the business direction. This portfolio development approach can take many forms, but one approach is outlined below.
First, a patent landscape can be generated so that the full state of the relevant art is identified with respect to a new product roll-out. Intellectual property specialists can then evaluate the new product direction with respect to the landscape and identify potential areas available for patent filing. Feedback from the business and engineering teams can then fine tune the key areas where new patent filings are not only available, but would carve out protection space that would make it difficult for competitors to follow the company’s product direction.
Next, brainstorming sessions can be held to capture and generate the various concepts that align with the identified areas from the landscape search and review. These concepts can then be ranked in terms of novelty and business value, and then used to drive new patent filings.
Such an approach can be continually refined throughout product development and launch to ensure that the patent filing and prosecution strategy adapts as product improvements are identified.
A portfolio development approach can either be a firm’s primary intellectual property strategy, or a supplement to the more traditional invention-disclosure-based structure.

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