INNOVATION MASTERY: Developing Patents [VIDEO]
The is the 2nd video in my series on Innovation Mastery: The Definitive Guide To Running The Ultimate Innovation Program: Developing Patents
This one is a little easier and a little harder. A little easier because you don’t need to think about actually building the product, a little harder because you need to make sure that you are developing something that a) is patentable and b) you will be able to extract value out of some time at least 4 years from now. There is a cost involved as well, and your legal team will also need to be able to have the capabilities to manage outside counsel who will probably do most of the filing for you.
You can easily track this one as well: how many patents did you file? Some companies get into competition with their competitors on this one. Of course, it’s more important to have quality patents as well, but with patents, you typically never really know which idea will be really valuable when you are filing it – so number of patents is a good metric.
This is a tough one for some companies who don’t think long-term. It will take about 4-5 years for your patent to be issued, and once it’s issued, you can then license it or sell it. The cost to file a patent is typically in a $15k range, unless your company files many patents already and they are able to get something like a volume discount, paying $15k per idea for something that “might” show some value 5 years from now (5 years is like a bazillion in tech years, no?) is sometimes even a harder nut to swallow for some companies than the product goal above.
Then there are the patentability criteria: novelty, usefulness and non-obviousness, and I’ll add one more which I like to look for as well, which is visibility. I’ll go into these in more detail in a future blog post, but in short the idea has to be new (no one else has really thought of this specific idea), useful (it has to do something which people will generally think is useful – this is why you can’t really patent a painting, even though they may be useful in calming your soul) and non-obvious (if your invention is something which is just an obvious extension of something someone else thought of – like using handlebars in your car instead of a steering wheel). I also like it to be visible – the idea is something that can be seen out there – for example, you may be able to patent an algorithm for a better search engine, but if I can’t figure out if someone is infringing on your idea because I can’t tell, then the value of the patent is typically not very high.
However, if you are enough of a long-term thinker to wait it out – this is a good strategy. Make sure that you also have a reward program for your inventors at filing, AND at issuance, so that they get rewarded at both ends – might even be an incentive for them to stay with you.