The “optics”—the visuals—of patent portfolios are often valued more than actual patent quality. Numbers of patents, patent claims, etc. may be prioritized over patent quality. Big companies are sometimes expert at playing this game. However, those wishing to create valuable patents need to address other factors, including:
Prior Art Searching
Was the patent prior art searched and if so, how extensively?
Was the non-patent prior art searched at all and if so, how extensively?
Did the inventor / assignee leave the searching up to the patent office?
Closely related to market factors are aspects of the inventions themselves. Is the invention narrow or broad? Amazon’s “1-Click” patent notwithstanding, broad inventions tend to be more valuable than very narrow inventions. There are several reasons for this: in the aggregate, royalties and/or damages in infringement cases may be higher for broad compared with narrow inventions and portfolios. Broad patents may make it difficult for competitors to “patent around” the inventions or to find new ways of solving a given problem that are as effective and efficient as the patented technologies. In addition, depending on the evolution of relevant markets, more parties may infringe broad than narrow patents.
Is the invention best thought of as a component of some larger product or service?
Is the invention sufficient to be the basis of a new product or service offering?
If component technology, who makes or would make the whole product?
Do prospective customers have a history of incorporating technologies from other sources or are they a “not invented here” culture?
Do prospective customers have a history of acquiring patents and if so, at what valuation?
Are there competing technologies that solve the immediate problem and if so, are those solutions more or less costly, or easier to manufacture?
How long does it typically take to get a “design win” in the relevant industry?
Patent Kinetics works with inventors, entrepreneurs, and investors to enhance the value of their patent portfolios and then works to monetize these portfolios through their sale, license or enforcement. Since Patent Kinetics works on a contingent fee basis, only a few cases of the many presented to us are accepted. The opportunities that we do accept are those where the prospective client has thought through—as best possible—relevant market, technology, and patent issues.
Many mistakenly believe that simply having pending applications and/or issued patents creates notable value. However, most patents are worthless. Research reports have found that only about 10% of issued patents ever return any value to their owners. Creating real value entails successfully overcoming significant challenges and a bit of luck. These challenges might be best understood by addressing most or all of the questions listed here. These questions can, of course, be used as a checklist for innovators or as a basis for preliminary due diligence by prospective stakeholders.
There's a ZDNet post by Jason Perlow suggesting that the show has 3 years to live given that APPL doesn't participate and that MSFT has withdrawn starting next year. May be correct despite this year's apparent high energy and positive tone. It seems like a lot of "also rans" chasing market share of the remainder after Apple has gobbled up smartphones, tablets, etc.
The 3D printers from MakerBot and Cubify and the 3D printing service from Sculpteo were very interesting. Hard to tell whether this will be a "great idea" with limited markets or whether the vendors can do the right marketing to grow revenue sufficiently to sustain each of these companies.
For inventors working on ideas that have physical instantiations, 3D printing may help decrease the time to from initial conceptualization to the first reduction to practice to working physical prototype to licensing. Inventors organizations,garage works, and selected startups may want to consider having a 3D printer demo day if the vendors will cooperate.
The OLED TV screens (Samsung, LG) are superduper: vivid colors, very bright, very thin, very expensive although the prices will come down as manufacturing gets down the learning curve. Living room integration and home control integration have made incremental progress since last year, but no big "Ah Has". More floor space to digital health gizmos and applications. Auto / Entertainment integration continues incrementally in both the new car and aftermarket products. The distraction factor remains a concern.
There were all too numerous small companies trying to get design wins for their component products. Hope springs eternal, I guess. Then there were the also all too numerous companies displaing add-ons to Apple products.Substantially fewer--although more than last year--were displaying Android phone and tablet add-ons.
On saturday morning, July 23rd, I gave a presentation to the Bay Area Chapter of the Inventors Alliance on Common Patent Mistakes That Waste Inventors' Time and Money. The presentation can be downloaded here in PDF format.
The main points include:
It’s possible to keep costs manageable and work with a registered patent attorney
Discipline, patience, and diligence are required
The two most important value killers are:
(1) not searching the prior art, and (2) poor claim language
Time has published it list of the best inventions of 2007. Innovations perhaps. But as Paul Saffo (among others) has pointed out, commercialization often takes decades from invention to market presence. Times list of Best Inventors begins here (with Archimedes).