Well that would be really nice, wouldn’t it? My daughter came home from school a few weeks ago and told me about one of her friends who had taken a bad fall on the playground and hit his head so badly he had to go to the emergency and get some stitches. She said, “I told him that he should patent that fall so that no one else can do the same.” Quite clever for a six-year-old I think!
However, as we all know, that is not really how it works with patents. She was correct in that the right acquired by a patent holder is a negative right, meaning that you can only prevent others from doing the same. For the case of falling and hitting your head it is, however questionable if that would be industrially applicable, and thus probably not patentable.
But are patents always used to actively stop others from copying your invention? Of course not – most patents are really never enforced.
Even though most patents are not used to sue competitors for infringement, doesn’t mean that they are never used. A patent can be used for many things, just as a scare tactic to keep competitors at an arm’s length (in essence a preventive measure), in marketing, in negotiations with investors, competitors or in joint-ventures, they can be sold and licensed. This means that a company can use their patent or patents when doing business, no matter how strong or weak the patent is.
For smaller inventors, there’s of course a great pride in the fact that you have your product patented, and many larger companies show off their extensive patent portfolios as proof of their inventiveness.
Some patents are really obscure, and some cover technologies that have changed the world. Having a good strategy for your patent and IP portfolio can be the difference between failure and success.
The final question is – what could patents and IP do for your business? Contact us at Awapatent and we can help you with your IP strategy!
Sofia Willquist, European Patent Attorney