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Reckless Abandonment

by Mike Caldwell, Director of Business Development, Anaqua

Patent renewals force key decisions regarding IP investments, and too many corporations base these decisions on guesswork. Understanding how a patent is performing in the market, its importance to the organization, and its strength should guide these decisions. Leveraging IP analytics can help an organization, and its review team, make smarter, fact-based decisions on whether to keep or abandon a patent. For companies reviewing hundreds of patents per year, having a standard methodology will enable quicker decisions with better justification.

How well managed the decision process is can determine the level of funding needed, which in turn impacts not just the total IP budget, but how much is available for protecting new ideas important to a business unit. On a fixed annual budget, money spent on renewals is money not spent protecting new ideas. Already protected IP, however, may be reaching its peak impact point in defending an existing product or business line from predators.

Depending on a company’s corporate strategy, several analytics provide guidance in the renewal decision process:

  1. Number of Rejections
  2. Number of Applications
  3. Number of Abandoned Applications
  4. Forward Rejections over Time
  5. Forward Citations over Time

As discussed in the Citations Blog & Paper Series, forward rejections are citations that cause the rejection of a competitor’s patent application. Without a patent’s forward rejection profile, companies make renewal decision blind. There is risk in making this abandonment decision blind, that is, without solid data, especially the forward rejection profile.

Letting a patent go that’s disruptive in the marketplace can have an adverse strategic impact. It may enable a competitor’s expansion into a product area or eliminate a licensing or other monetization opportunity with someone who demonstrated an interest in the technology or invested in the same technical space with a different product purpose.

The decision to keep or abandon patents can come down to a number of factors. Company’s reviewing hundreds of patents per year should have a standard methodology to streamline the process. First, determine if a patent is protecting an important product. Second, understand the expiration dates, followed by the forward rejection profile in total and over time. Finally consider if the IDS profile indicates a technical space that is still vibrant. Considering these factors, renewal decisions will better align with the business objectives of the company.

Read more from Mike Caldwell in IP Magazine.