High-profile intellectual property purchases have been in the news a lot lately. First, there’s Google, which has turned its focus to buying up patents left and right in an effort to protect their innovations. There’s also Facebook, which recently plunked down a large chunk of change for messaging app WhatsApp. We also mentioned Unilever’s massive purchase of Dollar Shave Club in a previous blog.
No doubt plenty of research and analysis preceded these purchases. In most cases, the businesses ready to buy companies with extensive patent portfolios probably considered the possibility of making their own products rather than buying a company with similar technology. It’s a conundrum that deserves a lot of attention before a final decision is made. Perhaps your company is also facing similar decisions, and you just don’t know where to start. You may not even be aware of the many patents your company already owns and the applications of that IP.
Long story short: An IPVision consultant can guide you through the technology landscape so you can make your decision with the best and most thorough information possible.
Buying Instead of Building
The purchase of another company for the purpose of acquiring the patent portfolio can serve several purposes, but the two more common reasons are these: to develop an aggressive offense strategy, in which the company purchased would have become (or already were) disruptive competitors; or as a foundation for growth through new technology built upon the products purchased along with the company.
You can use IP analysis to discover companies that have developed competitive or disruptive products and do your due diligence on those holdings before pursuit of a potential acquisition. This could provide better results than dedicating your own Research and Development dollars to developing similar technology. If someone already has it and has developed it well, acquiring that company could be a better way. IPVision helps both with identifying target companies and analyzing the quality of the companies’ patent holdings.
Making Something New
The first instinct when facing potential disruption is to develop a similar product based on one particular patent. The same old story happens again and again, with laptops and mobile devices performing suspiciously like Apple products, Lyft and Uber battling it out for dominance, Amazon introducing video streaming services like Netflix, and Microsoft Office360 going after Google’s G Suite. Copying doesn’t only apply to the technology involved either. Those smartphones that perform like iPhones also look a lot like them, too. What about Chrysler’s 300 that looks suspiciously like a Bentley?
However successful the copycat model may be for some, it does not lend itself to true innovation. Licensing or buying patents to pursue similar products can be expensive, as can defending your company against massive infringement suits. Your better bet is to create something new and file for your own patent.
Identifying space within the current technology landscape for innovation doesn’t have to be difficult. However, because the first inclination is to copy your competitor and race to the market, you could miss important information about what your customers are truly looking for.
That’s where we come in. IPVision will help you navigate the patent landscape to identify potential acquisitions or space where your company can innovate without copying. When you’re facing the make or buy decision, consider contacting us first for a strategy session. We’ll help you identify the best path forward so your company can grab more market share.