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les Nouvelles - March 2010


How Much Should You Invest In Patents?

Kelce Wilson

Research In Motion, Senior Patent Attorney, Dallas, TX, USA

Claudia Tapia Garcia

RIM Ltd, IPR Counsel, Munich, Germany

Setting a budget for intellectual property (IP) protection, including patent prosecution, enforcement and acquisition, can be a complex task, full of uncertainty and often subject to random criteria. Should you spend more, spend less, or keep things constant? How much confidence do you have in your decision process? Only a few organizations have a system for objectively evaluating whether they are allocating the right amount of funding. Unfortunately, most seem to be at risk for spending either too much or too little on IP protection.

Determining an optimal budget enables efficient use of resources, while simultaneously managing risks intelligently. Financial planning and prioritization, which can increase or decrease allocations for IP protection, can now be accomplished using the proposed economic theory. The theory has additional uses, including explaining the consequences of overfunding and under-funding. Additionally, it provides a framework for sensibly adjusting budgets in response to cost variations and developments that impact expected protection effectiveness, such as changes in the law affecting patent scope or enforceability. However, perhaps one of the most important secondary uses is identifying situations in which spending on IP protection is not economically sensible, because it is unlikely to be a profitable venture.

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