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Are we getting value for all the money we’re spending on patents?

By David French

How can we find out whether we’re getting value for all the money we’re spending on patents within the company?

This is a question I’ve heard before, and it’s a tough one to answer.

Corporations today are spending money on intellectual property. This includes not only patents but also trademarks and copyrights and occasionally industrial designs. All these items should be addressed in the modern high technology environmental. But a difficulty exists, particularly with respect to patents, in determining whether money invested in patents is money well spent.

There is a story going around that companies should have a large portfolio of patents in order to protect them in case they are sued by a competitor. The theory is that if you are sued then you will counter-sue, relying on one or more patents in the patent portfolio. But there is a fallacy involved in this scenario.

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What an IP co-ordinator should know, confidentially speaking

By David French

While recently on a trip to the United States, I was invited by an inventor with new technology relating to Cold Fusion to sign a Confidentiality Document, also known as a Nondisclosure Agreement, or NDA. I reviewed the document and I was reminded of the important points to consider before ever signing such a paper.

Inventors rely on non-disclosure agreements to preserve their rights to file for patent protection when disclosing their ideas to others during the development or funding stage of their inventions. Most countries in the world will not grant a patent, or uphold its validity in litigation, if it comes out that the inventor broke secrecy before filing a first patent application. This is the famous novelty requirement of patent law. Until further jurisprudence develops, it is likely that a single disclosure to a person who is not obligated to keep the information confidential will have the effect of invalidating the right to obtain a patent. Accordingly, it’s legitimate for inventors to want to discuss their ideas only on a confidential basis.

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What an IP Coordinator should know: Something about trademarks

As part of our ongoing series examining the ecosystem necessary to bring technology to market, David French, a senior Canadian patent attorney with 35 years of experience, now provides a further of his commentaries on the importance to a company of protecting its Intellectual Property.

By David French

In previous posts in this series we addressed mainly issues relating to patents. In this post we take a break from patents to discuss another very important type of Intellectual Property.

Intellectual Property has acquired this name because it is a type of property that is created by government-passed laws. Without legislation, the fundamental rule of the marketplace is that everyone is entitled to copy. But when someone copies trademark, there is an almost universal recognition that this is unjust. Besides being unjust, there are powerful economic justifications for suppressing the copying of trademarks by competitors.

Everyone has an impression as to what a “trademark” is. They think of Coca-Cola, or Heinz, or Heinz 57, or Kentucky Fried Chicken. The common thread of all trademarks is that when you see a mark you have a certain expectation about what you’re going to get. Although there are no rules forcing a trademark owner to market a consistent product under a trademark, there are powerful economic incentives for doing so.

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What an IP coordinator should know: Are we getting value for money?

As part of our ongoing series examining the ecosystem necessary to bring technology to market, David French, a senior Canadian patent attorney with 35 years of experience, provides a further commentary on the importance to a company of protecting its intellectual property.

By David French

In previous posts, we have addressed procedural issues relating to patents. In this post, we wrestle with the fundamental premise: Is it worth what we’re spending in obtaining patents?

“How can we find out whether we’re getting value for all the money that we’re spending on patents within the company?” That was the question that had been posed in my conversation with the chief financial officer of a local business. And it is a question that I’ve heard before. It is a tough question to answer.

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What an IP Coordinator should know: Review of patenting principles

As part of our ongoing series examining the ecosystem necessary to bring technology to market, David French, a senior Canadian patent attorney with 35 years of experience, now provides a further of his commentaries on the importance to a company of protecting its Intellectual Property.

By David French

In the previous postings in this series we have focused on issues relating to patents, and particularly on obtaining patents which are meaningful. Too often people say, “This is too complicated; make it simpler.” Accordingly, in this posting we will address our 10-point summary of important issues.

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