Focus on Patent Quality First, Then Quantity
It has been said that patents are like hyenas. One hyena can be easily defeated, but not a whole pack.
When doing multi-million dollar patent negotiations, patent quantity is often more important than quality. A large number of patents, which may be 10 patents in some cases or 100 patents in others, have an air of invincibility. Maybe a competitor could try to take down one or two patents that might be infringed, but when there are too many patents, the cost equation goes the other way and it is easier to negotiate and settle.
A startup cannot afford an entire pack of hyenas, so it must focus on patents that can withstand attack on their own.
High quality patents only take one thing: a bit more hard work.
Startups may not have the resources to build big patent portfolios. However, they do have the resources to do high quality patents. High quality comes with a bit more hard work.
The hardest part of doing a quality patent is to not rush the due diligence: take the time to thoroughly research the best design around alternatives, hone in on the points of novelty, and think through the different ways the invention may be adopted by the market. The patent drafting should be deliberate and well thought out, and the examination process should be complete and thorough.
Startups often convey a breathless need for speed. Time is the enemy of a startup, but the difference between a weakly written, poorly thought out patent application and a well-researched one is monumental.
There are two pleasant side benefits of writing quality patent applications: they tend to cost less, and they tend to be granted faster.
As the startup grows, there may be areas where quantities of patents begin to make sense. Larger numbers of patents would be especially helpful in technologies where there may be litigation or outbound licensing.
This is an excerpt from “Investing in Patents” by Russ Krajec.