The question many businesses ask shouldn’t be “how much would maintaining our patent portfolio cost?” Instead, the savvy corporation knows that the amount of money that could be lost due to neglecting their patent portfolio is not a risk they’re willing to take.
Managing patents and intellectual property can be expensive, but it’s an investment every company should make. The alternative could be staggering. Not only will you face potential risk for every product you develop, but you could also be missing out on important acquisitions of intellectual property that could drive your company well beyond your competitors. Without adequate knowledge of your portfolio, how would you even know the next steps to take?
Making the Investment
Obtaining a single patent family covered in the United States, the European Union, and Japan can cost upward of $100,000. This, of course, doesn’t even take into account the cost of time, which can cost even more than the patents themselves. When expanding into additional markets, the cost increases.
A medium-sized business could spend around $250,000 to $500,000 per year maintaining a single patent family. Enterprise businesses that file up to one hundred patent families per year might spend as much as $40 million. In other words, the base costs for obtaining patents for your portfolio can vary based on several different factors.
Ongoing maintenance and tax payments will bring additional costs. Maintaining a patent family for one year can cost more than $75,000. Without the payment of these fees, the rights within the patent can effectively disappear. For that reason, many companies will simply set up automatic payments to ensure that nonpayment doesn’t result in a loss of investment.
Avoiding Wasted Funds
Automatic payment of your patent fees can certainly ensure that you don’t lose the hard work and money you’ve already put forth. However, it can also result in a large amount of wasted money. You could carry patents that don’t benefit your business in any way, all the while tying up dollars that could be put toward better intellectual property investments.
Some of the possible waste includes:
- Patents that no longer align with your corporate strategy
- Patents filed simply to associate the company with an invention
- Patents no long relevant due to failed technology
- Patents rendered inefficient due to a merger or acquisition
- Patents held simply to avoid risk
Not only might you spend unnecessary budget dollars on maintaining unnecessary patents, but you could also miss opportunities to spend those dollars on IP that does drive your corporate strategy.
Monetizing Your Portfolio
Maintaining your patents can be expensive, as we’ve now discovered. What if you could actually bring in some revenue as a result of your maintenance? Those patents that no longer meet your needs don’t have to simply retire. You might open up licensing and sale opportunities that recoup some of your maintenance costs while also relieving you of patents you no longer need.
You might also discover, through your maintenance activities, white space in your industry where innovation might occur. This gives you the chance to do so much more than just recover your maintenance costs. You could leap well ahead of your competitors with new IP development, product acquisition, or even a company merger.
Without your eye on your IP holdings at all times, these opportunities could slip by unnoticed. Instead of worrying how much you’ll spend on maintaining your patent portfolio, consider how much more losing opportunities could cost you in the long run. Then give us a call so we can help you analyze your patent holdings.