Does Your Tech Startup Need to Play Offense with Patents?

In today’s world patents have become highly valuable business assets and owning a smart patent portfolio can really give your tech company a competitive edge and help to add value to your business. 

Any tech company should consider what patent strategy makes the most sense for their business model. One of the easiest ways to do this is to evaluate your businesses core strengths and identify your unique business goals for this year.  

Developing a Patent Portfolio

When it comes to developing a patent portfolio for your business, people typically talk about taking a ‘defensive’ or ‘offensive’ approach.  These two approaches differ greatly and each approach favours different business goals. 

If you opt to take an offensive stance when it comes to your patent portfolio, this strategy aims to produce sales by controlling access to any valuable technology you may have developed. 

A defensive strategy aims to protect your profit margins by minimising the risk of you being sued by any competitors.  A large number of the established tech companies utilise a defensive strategy, however, for some of the smaller tech startups this may not be the right approach. 

Startups Can’t Compete when it Comes to Filing Volume

In any given year, a typical large tech company will file up to 1,000 individual patent applications. This kind of pace is highly costly, making it difficult for startups to compete with.  In fact, more well-funded startups will file between 10 to 30 patent applications. This is often due to a limited infrastructure.   

For many startups, hiring experienced tech lawyers like Goodwin is an essential part of ensuring they continue to grow their market share. 

Why Tech Startups Should Consider Hiring A Lawyer

We can all agree that startup companies who simply follow the rules often run the risk of getting left behind.  Companies like Uber and Airbnb are changing the way they can run by challenging the law.  For example, Pinterest built a business around posting copyrighted images and Airbnb challenged local hotel zoning laws and won. 

When It comes to creating a successful startup company, the right lawyer can mean the difference between breaking the law and pushing boundaries.  A number of startups struggle to decide whether and when they should hire a lawyer.    

Why Do Startups Hire a Lawyer?

We can all agree that lawyers are not built like engineers.  They aren’t expected to reliably build products on a day-to-day basis.  Instead, a lawyer offers strategic, long-term value to your team.  One of the key reasons many startups opt to hire a lawyer is because of their skills in risk-management and smart growth opportunities. 

Startups Should Focus on Offensive Value

Any tech startup stand to benefit the most from utilising an offensive approach when it comes to their patent portfolio.  Creating patents with meaningful scope will help ensure they create a barrier to entry for other emerging companies.    

Tech startups would be wise to recognise the important of hiring a tech lawyer who can help achieve their offensive strategy. Hiring a skilled and experienced team of lawyers can often help block future startups entry into your market through defensive publications. 

Costs Associated with the Patent Process 

The patent process tends to be both costly and lengthy, which is why it is important for startups to plan ahead in order to budget and meet any necessary deadlines in the patent process.

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