Building a Patent Portfolio Amid the Death of True R&D



Patent Portfolio ROI

Each year, more and more American companies are cutting research and development budgets, moving further away from fundamental research and instead focusing on products that are closer to commercialization and monetization. As Fortune Magazine reported in December 2015, DuPont’s former CEO Ellen Kullman resigned under much criticism last year, and one of the complaints coming from opponents was her heavy investment in R&D.

In this environment, patents become more important than ever. Beyond protecting their core technology, a company’s patent portfolio:

  • Builds company valuation
  • Improves stock prices
  • Creates both real and perceived value for customers
  • Allows a company to monetize an idea through licensing
  • Serves as proof of expertise in a given industry

Keeping Innovation Alive

How do you maintain a culture of innovation when your budget is being cut? Here are a few tips:


1. Focus on value to the customer

In order to be patented, your product has to solve a problem in a way that differentiates it from prior inventions and existing knowledge in the industry. However, it’s important to first ask: Does my target customer care if this particular problem is solved? Evaluating your customer personas and their pain points can help you decide where to spend your time in new product development.


2. Survey the patent landscape

Part of determining what’s needed is assessing what already exists. What are your competitors currently doing, and where are their gaps? How can you define new market boundaries with your invention through innovation, creativity, and value? Considering the features and strategies of the current industry, and uncovering the holes, can help you discover untapped market space in which your technology may fit.


3. Outsource patent writing

Another way to make the most of limited R&D resources is to only pay people to do that which they are trained to do. Your inventors need to stay focused on inventing. Patent writing takes them away from the bench and outside of their expertise. Identifying an outside resource to write patents for you is an obvious choice, with one caveat: the patent writer must understand the technology involved in the invention.


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