International Patent Matters from a Canadian Patent Lawyer’s Perspective

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Invention Harvesting vs Directed Inventing

Gregory A. Stobbs in his 2001 book “Business Method Patents” describes how the classic corporate invention harvesting mechanism, based on filtering concepts presented by workers at the bottom of the corporation, can yield a sizeable patent portfolio in terms of numbers.   But, Stobbs warns, the results often lack focus.  Stobbs goes on to explain how more profitable patenting can be achieved by pursuing an innovation-development business model for the corporation. This involves establishing a proactive innovation procedure within the business organization.

I propose that this process be called: “Directed Inventing”.

A firm can move to a directed invention patenting program by first carrying-out an analysis within the firm as to the firm’s track record in terms of research and development, and the results achieved in terms of patents granted. These results are then compared with the objectives of the corporation and the planned initiatives that the corporation wishes to pursue in the future. The test question should always be: “Are these patents directed to features that could help the Corporation earn profits?”   Often this exercise will disclose the inadequacy of results that have been achieved by the previous corporate patenting program.  Corporate patents will in many cases be shown to lack focus.

A company’s patenting policies should be focused on innovations that have the potential to actually support corporate plans for the future.  In some firms corporate planning for the future may be very thin. In such cases, establishing a proactive patent policy should not be the firm’s first concern. Attention should be focused first on corporate plans for the future.  But when a firm does have clearly established corporate objectives for the future, these can serve as a beacon not only for evaluating inventions for possible patenting, but also for guiding the very invention process itself. Read the rest of this entry »