What Are Patent Portfolios?
A patent portfolio is a fancy term which simply means more than one patent that covers a specific technology. For most inventions, there are several uses or different applications of the invention. For that reason, it is common to have to limit the claims of the invention to one version in order to get the application through the USPTO. The value of a single patent is tenuous and is prone to designing around. However, when a portfolio of patents is in place, covering any conceivable application, version, or embodiment of a core technology – the value goes up considerably. That is why a majority of the patent transactions for purchase or license from larger companies are for patent portfolios.
One Invention Per Patent
There is a rule, that only one invention may be issued at a time. The USPTO examiners are very good at spotting inventions that are too broad. It’s their job to make sure that there is only one core invention per patent that is granted. If the examiner believes there are more than one invention in the patent application, they will reject the entire application and require the inventor/applicant to elect only some of the claims they submitted. Often, the examiner will divide up the application into discrete inventions, for example, they’ll say that Claims 1-4 are drawn to invention 1, Claims 5-11 are drawn to invention 2, and Claims 12-20 are invention 3. When the applicant/inventor picks one invention, the other claims are withdrawn from the pending application.
How do you Develop a Portfolio?
When you have an examiner restrict some of your claims from moving forward, instead of letting the unelected claims go abandoned, you can file what’s called a divisional patent application, where you file a separate co-pending application on the same subject matter, but claim the invention using the claims that were unelected on the original patent application.
Another way to grow your portfolio is to continue to develop your technology while the original patent application is pending. You can file what’s called a continuation or a continuation in part patent application which can claim new claims and point to new specification/drawings that have come about through improvement or customer feedback during the pendency of the patent application.
Managing Patent Portfolio Objectives
Effective patent portfolio management requires an in-depth understanding of your business objectives. Managing a patent portfolio involves more than obtaining patent protection; it also encompasses identifying and using existing patents fully, acquiring new patents, licensing technologies to other companies, and recognizing when existing patented assets are no longer providing value. Bold Patents provides a range of patent services, including patent portfolio management guidance and advice designed to help clients make strategic decisions regarding their patents and other intellectual property.
Still Have Questions?
Get with a Bold Patent Attorney to explain your specific scenario, and we will walk you through how to get on the path to developing valuable patent portfolios today!