How do businesses protect the patents they own?

IpPrism

Businesses buy patents for many reasons

A patent is a legal claim to the rights to an invention. While it’s not uncommon for a business to try to acquire patents, this is rarely done in the same way as in other industries. A company will generally buy patents for defensive reasons – either for protection against its competitors or because of an established trend of patents IpPrism being bought up by other businesses.

You’ll find that a number of different types of businesses hold patents in different ways:

  • Software companies that write software
  • Financial services companies that create financial products and services
  • Hardware companies that make devices (like cars or printers)

These are all good examples of the different ways in which businesses protect their intellectual property. For example, most big banks will hold patents on their own innovations. While financial institutions commonly buy patent protection from each other instead.

Some businesses buy patents to use the technology covered by the patent

This is an interesting question, which I think probably comes up more often among lawyers than with entrepreneurs.

There are two schools of thought:

1) The first one says that you should never sell anything you do not own (in fact, you should only sell things you do own). This belief is based on the general idea that if the product or service you provide is not yours but someone else’s, then it is not your business. You don’t make money from other people’s products and services. But quite a few people seem to be willing to do just that.

2) The second school of thought says that there are limits as to how much ownership someone can have over something. So long as it’s clearly distinct from the owner of the patent in question. If the patent holder can’t make a claim against the purchaser. Then they can’t hold liable for use of the patented technology (although they should work to defend it if they want; see point 3). This is the one that most lawyers support — though many others disagree.

In this post, I want to examine why some companies buy patents and why others don’t. In particular, I want to look at where exactly these practices fit into a company’s overall strategy around protecting its intellectual property and how this might affect its legal position going forward.

Other businesses buy patents for defensive reasons

There are a number of different ways of thinking about patents. The first is to think in terms of what the patent protects. There are two main kinds of patents: utility patents and design patents.

A utility patent is one that defines a specific use. For example, there are utility patents covering the design of an electric car. It may that a particular design is more efficient in terms of energy consumed than other designs. But if this is so then it doesn’t matter. Which other designs you use if the one you use is covered by an existing patent.

A design patent does not cover the way something looks, but rather describes how it works. For example, Apple’s “patent” on every iPhone has nothing to do with how the phone looks but instead describes how the phone works. Some companies view utility and design patents as complementary. Which means a company owning both may able to negotiate better prices with those who own only one kind of paten. (iPhones own both a utility patent and a design patent). The second way to think about patents is in terms of ownership. Who owns something?

In general, businesses tend to own their intellectual property – they have rights over it and they control when others can use it or sell it. They don’t necessarily want competitors using their IP (the opposite would be true). Businesses also have rights to protect their IP against others’ IP theft: if someone else infringes on your IP, you can sue them for damages (and possibly take legal action against them too).

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