How To Craft A Patent Strategy – Software StartupsMay 2, 2020
Importance of intellectual property while launching a new innovation in software
Well, it depends on the type of innovation and the product. For example, there is a mobile game which has a character of a new movie. For a few months, that game may be hit but after sometimes, it is expected to fade quickly. Therefore, inventions based on movement or actions of any specific character, may not be worth although possible to patent.
For other products, patent plays an important role. In 1980’s SPC (Software Publishing Company) had the leading presentation software called ‘Harvard Graphics’. Harvard Graphics is very popular for conferences and presentations. Especially, for people doing business, this software was the standard for conference and conference room presentations. It costs around a hundred dollars on floppy disks. Although there were many other presentation software programs at the time Harvard Graphics was the leader in the market.
After that, Microsoft developed a program similar to that which was not as good at the time as Harvard Graphics. Now it is known as a power point. However, Microsoft attached its word processor and spreadsheet programs with the power point together. This bundling came out to be as Microsoft office. And it has the same price as a copy of Harvard Graphics. Microsoft eventually killed Harvard Graphics. Not only that software but also SPC and many other companies. At the time, competing directly against Microsoft had become nearly impossible.
After that, the courts recognized software patents as allowable subject matter. By the late 1990s, software companies such as Adobe, Autodesk, and Intuit were able to protect their innovations with patents and began to grow and flourish.
Intellectual property protection of software has played a crucial role. It leads to the growth of competition in the field over the past two decades.
Developing software-related innovation
Startups or the companies who are developing the software related innovation, need to answer these questions if they want to build strong intellectual property protection:-
- Why people buy their product or service?
- What is it about the particular product that is driving customers to write a check?
Well, it’s not about the technology but a unique experience that buyer gets when they use your product.
The right way to think about obtaining patent protection for software
The software is something which is real, useful and important. Don’t think of it only as a software. Well, customers are looking more for innovative things which solve their problems.
The goal of the patent system is to promote and protect the invention. Every invention which is new, useful and non- obvious is patentable except nuclear weapons secrets, laws of nature etc.
Startups budget for their intellectual property portfolios
The need for an intellectual property depends on the nature of the startup. A pizza shop opening in Detroit may decide to register their name as a trademark and leave it at that. On the other hand, A venture-funded tech startup needs for a monopoly patent portfolio immediately in order to protect its market from competition.
So consider them:-
- To have a vision of where the company is going.
- What goals would be achieved by investing in intellectual property protections?
- When cash is tight as it is with most start-ups in the beginning
- To have a roadmap in order to focus investment only on IP.
Non-strategic investment is just money wasted. The most valuable IP tool for any startup or for any company is an IP roadmap. Two of the many great benefits of being a startup that are:
1.there is a complete absence of historical baggage
2.the possibilities for unimagined success are endless
But no one will start a journey without having a clear designation or roadmap in the mind. Similarly, if a company’s IP ‘strategy’ is merely to collect patents randomly, then all the company will ever own is a box full of random patents.
If you want to build a true monopoly and want to protect the unique experience which keeps customers engaged then it’s essential to start with an IP monopoly roadmap of where you are going and how will you be able to go there.