When it comes to the development and release of new products by small businesses, a new trend has emerged. Rather than spending time developing and perfecting prototypes, startups are instead focusing more strongly on the development and filing of the patent protecting the new idea. Experts trace this shift to the presence of an increasingly competitive playing field when it comes to securing patents, which has become more and more populated by such tech giants as Apple, Samsung, and Google. This has necessitated smaller firms to build up their intellectual property portfolios first before defining and pursuing the details of building and production, so that they are later able to effectively protect their rights when the product is ready to go to market.
This shift is not surprising, given that today the average price on a trending or “hot” patent is about $1 million. Thus, in the current market, the patent has become equally if not more valuable than the product it protects. In addition, often new technologies can attract the interest of a variety of industry leaders, as the race to produce the latest and most popular gadgets continues to dominate many markets, making industrial property protection more important than ever.
With the increasing importance of patents in a variety of industries, it’s not surprising that many small business firms are relying on intellectual property coaches to ensure they effectively navigate the legal aspects of the patent world and properly protect their ideas. These coaches take a much more aggressive approach to the patent process than in years past, carefully screening all aspects of the patent application for any loopholes that a potential competitor might be able to use down the road to get around the patent and capitalize on the idea. With this new, much more defensive approach to patents, companies might even go so far as to require engineers, who haven’t even built the original product yet, to conceptualize ways in which the technology can later be extended so that these ideas can be protected as well.
Vance, Ashlee. “Startups’ New Creed: Patent First, Prototype Later.” Bloomberg Businessweek. 8/9/12. (8/19/12.) http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-09/startups-new-creed-patent-first-prototype-later.