Intellectual property is a long-term asset that can deliver a return on investment for decades after receiving a patent. Economic downturns usually don’t affect companies’ IP strategies for this reason. However, COVID-19 has economic ramifications unlike other recessions in recent memory. This time, organizations are approaching intellectual property differently than they did during the last downturn in 2008. The uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic has directly impacted research and development teams, IP professionals, and business leaders.
Faced with smaller budgets, innovation teams are turning to multiple cost-saving techniques: abandonment, accelerating speed to market, and strategic renewal decisioning.
Should You Abandon Your Patents?
Patents are usually abandoned by small entities (organizations with less than 500 employees) at a rate of 12.5%. Large entities abandon patents less often, at a rate of 7.5%. Abandonment, which usually occurs because of patentability concerns or cost restrictions, saw spikes in both March and July of 2020. In July, small entities abandoned patents at a rate of 31%, while large entities fared slightly better, with an abandonment rate of 13%.
The USPTO is continuing its efforts to curb the impact of COVID-19 on small business innovation. The office announced that, for small and micro-enterprises, many fees include payment extensions. Relief for other organizations is available on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, COVID-19-related trademark applications may be advanced out of turn and immediately assigned for examination.
The impact of abandoning patents now may be felt by businesses for many years. There are many reasons to continue seeking protection for your intellectual property. Many patent systems, including the United States, “reward the first inventor to file.” If during this time, your business is the first among its competitors to file, even for a provisional patent, you may emerge from this uncertain time with a competitive advantage. Protected intellectual property may help organizations recover from the COVID-era, especially if competitors failed to patent their latest technology.
Strategic Investment in Intellectual Property
Innovation is necessary to adapt to our new normal. Rather than forgoing patent protection, companies can opt to focus on speed to market and strategic renewal decisioning.
Utilizing automation and artificial intelligence, product engineers and other R&D team members can minimize the time between ideation and monetization. Our Technology Vitality Report (TVR) fast-tracks novel ideas with an AI-enabled Novelty Score. Employing this unbiased technology allows for rapid feedback between patent review committees, patent agents and attorneys, and inventors. For insights into the competitive landscape and relevant prior art, these teams can turn to the powerful capabilities of InnovationQ®. Together, these intellectual property solutions help organizations determine investment priorities and bring innovations to market faster for more immediate ROI.
Assessing existing patents is also an important piece of a COVID-era intellectual property strategy. Industry leaders are predicting a continued focus on “fewer, higher-quality assets.” IP professionals should examine their organizations’ portfolios, looking for intellectual property with both well-known and untapped potential. With the help of insights delivered by tools like our Patent Vitality Report (PVR) and Portfolio Intelligence Report (PIR), businesses can renew their patents with confidence or opt to prune IP from their portfolios.