Whether you are a car mechanic or a blockchain engineer, the notion of taking a patent on your idea must have occurred to you at some point of time. Patent ownership makes you proud and gives you a confidence on your idea as it is a government document that grants you exclusive jurisdictional rights to your innovation and proves that you invented something unique and useful.
Getting a patent is an expensive business where you pay more fees after patent grant to keep the patent in force. A utility patent is valid for a period of 20 years (from filing) and maintenance renewal fees must be paid on regular intervals to keep the patent active. A patent lapses when you stop paying the required renewal fee within the given time. Usually this happens because attempts to commercially exploit the underlying invention have failed and the patent owner chooses to not invest any more money. The next time you think about renewing your patent, you should consider below listed points before letting your patent lapse.
Check For Any Infringers
As the patent gets old, the chances of anyone infringing on your patent grows. So, it is important to keep your eyes open for any infringement of your patent. Before deciding to stop paying renewal fee and letting your patent lapse, it is recommended to conduct a thorough check for all infringers or potential infringers of your patent. You must also check for infringers of your already lapsed patent (maybe after a year and two) and try to find any evidence if the infringement was still there when your patent was active. An infringement claim is valid if you can prove that an infringement existed when your patent was in force.
Identify Potential Buyers or Licensees For Your Patent
Licensing your patent is the best strategy to generate revenue for long tenure. It is an act of or a process of granting, to a third party, permissions to extract benefits by selling and using the licensed product. Licensing helps you maintain the ownership of your patent and keeping the licensee choosing decision to you. You can also sell your patent to earn a one-time revenue to your competitor or patent asserting firms.
Partner With Other Technology Players
You can identify and partner with other players that are working in a similar technology domain as you are, and who can use your patented technology for their use. You can also cross license your patent for a patent owned by a second party that you can use for your benefit.
Conduct A Market Research
A thorough market research is recommended to understand the market conditions before making any decision related to patent renewal and letting the patent lapse. Since a patent provides a country specific IP right, market research especially in countries where the patent protection is present must be conducted.
Patents are expensive, both from the perspective of idea generation and money spent on prosecution and maintenance. A thoughtfulness is required to decide which patents to keep in your portfolio and which to let go. Although, it is true that a lapsed patent can be reinstated under some circumstances, it comes with a cost. Since you don’t come with a patentable idea every day, it’s better to squeeze most out of the existing patents of your portfolio.
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