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Why just having one patent might not be enough even for the simplest of innovations

CMS DigitalBytes

6 June 2018

Bicycles are a great area for patenting ... and there are lots of boutique bike and bike component/accessory makers who compete with the big bicycle manufacturers. However, the more that new innovative technology created by smaller players is seen to be driving their sales, the more attractive it is for their competitors (small and large) to muscle in with their own versions.

One tactic that can help stall agressive competition can be to not just file one patent application but to file a few to try to create a thicket and gain some control over how close your competitors can get to your technology.  As the post below shows, a lot of speculation might result when the patent applications are published, but this can also be beneficial.

So do bear in mind that whilst a pending patent application is very useful and may definitely help attract investors to make your idea a reality, it may not be the be all and end all of your patenting activities. For example, think of all the technical challenges which need to be overcome to get to a working prototype. If a patent only ends up protecting the "best" solution, what about the "also ran" versions? These might be more than quite good even though they were not the "best". The door could be wide open for competitors to come and offer rival products which use the "also ran" innovative technology if this is not covered by some form of IP protection.

Whilst having one patent filing shows you have faith your tech is truly innovative, having two or more patent applications pending could show that you are thinking strategically about next steps to protect your success or, possibly, that you just like befuddling your competition ...

"Recently an avalanche of patents, primarily from components manufacturers Shimano and SRAM, cascaded into Twitter feeds. What followed was the traditional analysis of what these potential products mean for the future of cycling technology, and who will be dictating that future. This speculation is natural; it’s fun to think about what we might be riding in a year or two. It’s also important to remember a patent does not a product make.

At least not always.

When a company files a patent, it may mean a new product is poised for future production. It may also mean a company simply wants to protect its idea by preventing others from developing similar technology. Or, the patent outlines an experiment or idea that may end up being a dud that never comes to market. In other words, it’s not always a clear indicator that we will see that product in the future.

But it is an indicator that a company believes its new invention holds promise. And generally, there’s an intention to at least try to create something new.

Companies don’t generally take the patent process lightly. The patent process is not an easy one, nor is it cheap.

“We look at what value the patent would hold for SRAM,” says Kevin Wesling, SRAM’s director of advanced development. “It costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Will it be worth it? If we go through all that trouble, there’s a good bet we’re going to use it.”"

The content above was originally posted on CMS DigitalBytes - CMS lawyers sharing comment and commentary on all things tech.



Dr. Coreena Brinck