Without IP, there is no innovation

Without IP, there is no innovation

IP rights give innovative companies the competitive edge they need to succeed, so why are tech leaders leaving IP filing and prosecution so late?

In the tech industry, innovation moves fast. In contrast, the legal system that captures, protects, and enforces creativity and invention can appear slow, cumbersome, and costly. Little wonder that many tech leaders are kicking IP filing and prosecution activities further down the road.

However, acquiring the appropriate IP assets, knowledge, and strategy is critical to success. If start-ups keep putting off IP, they will struggle to protect their concepts and inventions, attract investors and partners, retain control of their ideas, branding, and tech—and, ultimately, bring their products or services to market. 


IP rights protection can be complex, but you don’t need to be an attorney to succeed. In this eBook, we provide a practical introduction to IP for tech start-up leaders, with a step-by-step guide to ensure you focus your efforts and investment in the right areas and at the right time.

Getting the Basics Right

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an IP Strategy That Fits Your Technology and Vision

A targeted IP portfolio will protect your innovation and creativity, secure a return on your R&D investments, create new revenue streams, and attract investors to your tech start-up.


What IP do you hold, and where does it sit in your tech space? Which inventions can or should you protect and when? And how can you incorporate IP into your business strategy to achieve your long-term goals? Get the basics right with the help of our step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Understand What You Own and Its Potential Value


If your R&D processes are working as they should, they will already have produced IP rights, whether or not you have moved to the next step of filing and registration. That IP will generally fall under five different legal systems:


  • Patentsprotecting technical solutions implemented in a product, software, or other solution.

  • Trademarksprotecting the distinctive signs (name, logo, slogan, trade dress…) that identify a product and its brand owner.

  • Designsprotecting a product or solution’s aesthetic appearance.

  • Copyrightautomatically protecting eligible original works of authorship (literary, graphical, audiovisual), including software.

  • Trade secretsprotecting business secrets, including know-how, confidential information, and unpublished business methods, recipes, or formulae.

While certain unregistered rights arise automatically (or are maintained through business secrecy), patents, trademarks, and designs should be filed in the territories in which you operate. Once granted, those IP rights will provide a valuable monopoly over what you have protected. This monopoly will give you the competitive edge to commercialize your product, attract investors, and block competitors from copying your inventions and ideas.

However, that does not mean that you should register everything. IP rights can be costly to file and prosecute, so your priority should be to file the right IP assets for your business, tech space, and business objectives.

Understand What You Own


Start by auditing your IP filings, pending applications, and R&D pipeline. What IP have you protected already, and what do you intend to protect to support your innovation roadmap? Has any secondary IP been created as a byproduct of the innovation process that you could monetize or sell? 



Assess its Potential Value


Do you know the value of your IP in your tech space? A patent landscape analysis will plot rights you have filed (or plan to file) against those of your competitors to identify your freedom to operate and any infringement concerns. In theory, the more white spaces in the landscape, the more opportunities to create and file IP. However, it’s important to note that the value of any IP filed to date will also depend on what you have filed—and whether you have maximized the breadth of protection to capture as large a chunk as possible of that white space. If not, your competitors can quickly leapfrog over your invention to design around and effectively hijack your technology. 


Conversely, the more crowded the landscape, the more challenging it will be to protect your technology, as competitors will seek to raise objections once your patent application is published. Not only does this require you to be very strategic when filing the patents necessary to commercialize your technology, but (if understood in advance) can also ensure that you focus your R&D investments in the right areas, i.e., those that will create valuable and patentable inventions. 

If you leave IP till late or last, this will be impossible to achieve; instead, think of your patent strategy as a driver for product development, not just a necessary step in your roadmap to market launch.

Step 2: Decide What To Protect and When


The sooner you can file, the sooner you can protect your ownership of that technology space, attract investors and other stakeholders to your commercialization plans, and even use your IP rights as leverage for IP financing. However, patents have a limited lifespan and are not cheap to file, renew, or enforce. Budget management and time-to-market are two issues to consider when developing your patent strategy.


While your chosen patent attorney firm can support you with the patent drafting process, they may not be adept at picturing the bigger commercial context. The right strategic partner will not only enable you to identify IP filing and registration milestones but should also group and sequence patent filing to delay or otherwise defer overseas filing costs without impacting the validity of those rights.

Step 3: Exploit Your IP To Achieve Your Business Goals


Finally, to create a strategic patent portfolio, you should also consider your long-term business goals. For instance, if you are anticipating an exit via acquisition, it is better to focus patent protection in meaningful areas for potential acquiring entities. That means designing your IP strategy to direct—or at least inform—your product development strategy, including identifying and filing commercially significant patents to increase business value. 


Likewise, if you are counting on your IP to attract the investment you need to launch a new technology, your patent strategy must match your ambitions. That means focusing on relevant and high-value patents that protect the product and technology you intend to commercialize, as opposed to irrelevant and low-value products that cover unrelated or obsolete technologies. 


However, patent filing and prosecution are only part of the picture—you also need to enforce and defend those IP rights to ensure they retain their value in the eyes of potential investors or acquirers. That requires additional levels of investment that many tech start-ups might not yet have considered. 



AiPi also offers an IP Litigation Financing service to help

companies finance patent infringement litigation in the US.

Don’t Fall For These 5 Mistakes

5 Common IP Pitfalls—And How To Avoid Them

You can follow the letter of the law and still not capitalize on the opportunity to protect, enforce, and exploit your innovation. Make sure you’re not spending valuable resources in the wrong areas by avoiding these five common mistakes. 



Mistake 1: Undervaluing Or Overvaluing Your IP


Undervaluing and overvaluing IP is a common trap for busy tech start-ups. On the one hand, it’s tempting to think of IP as a simple legal formality and to delegate responsibility to an internal or external patent attorney. While this approach may result in patent filings, chances are that you’re missing opportunities to fully monopolize the innovation. On the other hand, it’s equally easy to overstate the importance of your invention or the IP acquired so far. Until you plot that invention and existing IP into the patent landscape of your tech field, then you will not know its real value or potential.



Mistake 2: Missing Deadlines or Formalities


IP is a territorial right, and requirements for protection can vary drastically by country or jurisdiction. Given the often arcane and inconsistent legal processes and procedures required to meet global patent and trademark deadlines and formalities, it’s understandable that errors are made and deadlines are missed. Unfortunately, such mistakes can have grave consequences for the validity of your IP rights—potentially blocking your ability to protect your innovation and even undermining your efforts to sell your business or enforce your rights in court.


Watch out, in particular, for rules around:


  • Disclosure: Innovation is only patentable if it is novel, so don’t publish or publicize it prematurely!

  • Confidentiality and trade secrets: It can be challenging to uphold confidentiality if you work closely with contractors or external partners, so make sure you’re taking all possible steps; for example, by using non-disclosure agreements and limiting access to trade secrets and know-how.

  • Patent prosecution, annuities and recordals: If you miss a deadline to reply to an office action or renew your patent rights, you could limit, undermine or even lose your right to the patent itself. As important, you must keep your patent portfolio up-to-date. That means updating the record (known as recordals or title updates) if you change business information, such as your name or address.



Mistake 3: Thinking of IP as a Cost, Not an Investment


It’s a common complaint that patents are expensive to file and maintain, and while this is arguably true, that is only part of the picture. Patent rights provide you with a monopoly to commercialize your product or technology for a set period, thereby providing the opportunity to recoup your R&D costs and drive future profit for your business. If you protect innovations appropriately and in the right markets, the money you spend now on filing those patent rights should be considered an investment rather than a drain on your resources.


Of course, money can be tight for start-ups, so it’s natural to want to dedicate all your resources to creation and commercialization. However, IP rights have their uses here, too. Patents may be “intangible assets,” but they still provide a valuable title that you can use to generate IP financing to fund product development. 



Mistake 4: Taking a Short-Term View


Commercialization should go hand-in-hand with your IP strategy. Not only can IP increase revenue in the short term but it can also help you to optimize your company’s value throughout its entire lifecycle, driving future product development, operations scaling, mergers, acquisitions, and even business owner exit. 


By thinking long-term, you can ensure the validity, accuracy, and value of your IP portfolio, whether you plan to grow, diversify, or sell. 



Mistake 5: Leaving IP to the Lawyers!


Patent and trademark attorneys possess incredible knowledge and expertise in the IP legal system. However, they’re not necessarily renowned for their commercial prowess. 


While technical legal advice is vital to meeting the procedures, deadlines, and formalities mentioned above, it only covers part of the picture. All businesses, especially tech start-ups, need strategic IP advice, not solely filing and prosecution services. That’s why we recommend working with an IP partner who can help you to optimize your patent portfolio rather than simply protecting specific inventive concepts on demand.

What Is a Patent Landscape Analysis?

A patent landscape analysis will chart granted and pending patents by the technological field and subfield to reveal what rights exist, who owns them, and any crossover with your chosen technology. Using machine learning, the patent landscape services offered by AiPi also go one step further to articulate:


  • Exploitation possibilities: measured across industries, technologies, and applications
  • Relevance for other technologies/applications: the more citations, the more relevant and valuable the technology/application/formulations
  • Differentiation to the state of the art: is your innovation an alternative, evolution, or revolution?
  • Claim width and coverage: the reach and potential blocking effect of a patent
  • Validity level: the number of oppositions to cited references can reveal a patent’s strength and importance
  • Market coverage: the size of the market covered by the patent
  • Market trends: the demand for the patent or invention in the market
  • Evidence of use: the difficulties of detecting infringement, a key indicator of value

Based on that analysis, we will create a valuation of the patents, ranking them from commercially relevant to obsolete. Next, we will identify any infringed rights and by which competitors and highlight any entities that may be interested in buying or licensing the portfolio. 

Find out more about our patent strategy and creation services or request a meeting:


AiPi specializes in supporting tech start-ups with patent strategy and creation, patent portfolio optimization, and business commercialization services.

If your tech start-up is to succeed, it needs to acquire the right patents and patent claims for your technology field. By analyzing the patent landscape and the inventor’s business goals, we help tech leaders to create strategic patent portfolios that inform product development, increase company value, and achieve their long-term business goals.

Discover our three-phased approach:

In Phase 1, AiPi creates a novel patent landscape illustrating all existing patent rights in a technology sector relevant to your commercialized products or services. Most “patent landscapes” provided by patent search firms deliver only limited insights; AIPI’s inventive landscapes are different because they allow us to drill-down into the categorized data and extract meaningful insights.


In Phase 2, AiPi uses this patent landscape to create a patent strategy with both offensive and defensive components. Defensively, AiPi compares the client’s planned and commercialized technology to existing patent rights in the context of global clearances and freedom to operate determinations to identify infringement concerns. Offensively, AiPi identifies white spaces in the landscape where no patent rights currently exist. Importantly, we then use this patent strategy to drive product development strategy; for example, by identifying new features or implementing technologies to protect—or those protected by others to avoid. 


In Phase 3, AiPi puts this IP strategy into action by drafting patent applications directed to those inventions in a cost-effective manner. We do this by including many separately patentable inventions in a single omnibus disclosure to maximize the breadth of protection, by delaying government filing fees and other costs, and by sequencing the filing of patents overseas to delay or otherwise defer overseas filing costs. This results in much more comprehensive patent protection than the traditional approach (where a patent application covers only a single inventive concept).

Find out more about our patent strategy and creation services or request a meeting: