As your patent portfolio grows, so do the management costs. Before they spin out of control, it is crucial that you devise an IP management strategy that will help you avoid ineffective and often excessive patent-related activity and keep the expenses low. One obvious thing is that businesses need to focus on protecting inventions that will most likely be beneficial from the commercial or strategic standpoints instead of trying to boil the ocean and patent them all.
However, there are a few less obvious factors that might impact your IP management costs to a significant extent. This article discusses how you can influence these factors to lower overall costs.
Make use of the provisional patent application (PPA)
A provisional patent enables you to temporarily stake out a claim for patenting an invention while making further technological advancements. This is especially helpful for early-stage inventions or if the scope of the patent claims is not clear yet.
When making a provisional patent application, you secure a filing date for the regular patent application. According to the US patent regulations, a PPA has a 12-month pendency from the date it is filed.
Compared to the non-provisional patent application, the PPA option is much cheaper – for example, in USPTO, the PPA filing fee for a small entity costs $150 while a regular patent application accounts for at least $730 (which includes the basic filing fee as well as the search and examination fees).
Work directly with local attorneys
Once your business is going global, you’ll need to protect your IP rights in multiple countries with different patent law regulations and practices. There is a temptation to hire a single attorney or an agency to deal with all this international stuff – however, such an approach might be quite costly.
As international patenting requires liaising with multiple government bodies or various mediators, these vendors will most likely delegate some of the tasks to sub-contractors, which can eventually make up a tidy sum. The extended chains of sub-agents result in additional fees that may amount to up to 80% of the final price!
Unfortunately, this makes international IP management outsourcing a costly affair. So, one of the ways to cut down expenses is to work directly with the end contractors in the countries where you’ll be filing your patent applications. IP management software solutions like iPNOTE can help you effectively manage contractors in this case.
Make sure you have full access to your IP data
Another way to avoid extra costs is to use a data-driven approach to making important decisions. To effectively manage your IP portfolio and processes, you need to have full access to the associated data, such as filing dates, extensions of time, extension fees, etc. When each transaction is associated with the related activity, you’ll be able to analyze your expenses and manage them more effectively.
However, it often occurs that attorneys store all these records on their premises with limited access, and you need to send a request to view at least a part of them. So, in this case, you’re alienated from the decision-making process, and if the attorney makes a mistake, you will never know until the issue arises.
To avoid such dependency and increase transparency, it is crucial to have full access to all your patent data.
Adopt an IP management system
As your business grows and expands abroad, the number of patents and trademarks increases simultaneously, so it’s getting harder to manage your IP portfolio. At this point, implementing dedicated software can be a great solution – it enables simpler, cheaper, and more flexible IP management.
iPNOTE, for example, enables you to structure and organize your portfolio by numbers, dates, history updates, links and files. Planning your IP budget and payments has never been easier with cash flow visualization and automatic fee payments.
You can also invite external collaborators and manage communications with attorneys and employees regarding each case. By increasing the transparency of your IP management process, you can save up to 50-80% and achieve a new level of flexibility.