I don’t have the resources to sue someone who is infringing. Why bother patenting my invention?

Don’t worry. You, the entrepreneur, likely won’t sue anyone for infringing your patents. Instead, you are building a war chest of patents that a potential acquirer can use to protect market share. If you aren’t building your company for an acquisition though, you may grow to the point where you can have the resources, or find outside resources, to protect your position by asserting your patents. Even if you do not sue an infringer, just the mere fact that you have the patent may require competitors to design an inferior product to get around your patent—ensuring that the patent owner has a better product to commercialize.

Patents have other important functions too and can produce unintended benefits. For example, if someone sues you, then you may have some patents to shoot back at the people suing you (assuming they infringe your patents). Strong patents may also dissuade some competitors from asserting their own patents against you. Sometimes, you can license your patents as an additional source of revenue (see below). I’ve often seen cases where a competitor buys a company after discovering their strong patent portfolio. Acquiring sometimes is easier than fighting a strong patent position.

Steven Saunders is an Intellectual Property Attorney at the Boston-based law firm, Nutter. Steven can be reached at ssaunders@nutter.com.

For more information about Steven, See Steven’s Martin Trust Center Biography at: https://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/profile/steven-saunders/

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