Intellectual property rights (IP rights) are not inherently valuable. Their value is the strategic advantage gained by excluding others from using the intellectual property. To be valuable, your exclusionary rights should be strategically aligned with your business objectives. Without a strategic alignment, you may be wasting your investment and missing opportunities to capture valuable market advantages.
The most valuable IP rights are those that provide a competitive advantage over your competitors and build equity in your brand. Whether your products provide unique functionality, improved efficiency or desirable aesthetics, the marketable value is in having your brand recognized as the exclusive source of these offerings.
With respect to your utility patents, your objective is to be the exclusive source of the critical functional aspects of your products. Accordingly, when planning a patent strategy, the most relevant question to ask isn’t, “what does your invention do,” but rather, “what does your invention do that would you like to prevent your competition from doing?” If you can claim capture a valuable distinction, your patent may hold great value.
With respect to your design patents, your objective is to be the exclusive source of products that embody a characteristic visual element. Design patents that protect the aesthetics of your products can tie into your branding and trademark strategies to help you build and maintain long-term value in your products and brand. Preventing others from riding the coattails of your creative designs may be the key to retaining and increasing sales, even when the competition is able to provide similarly functioning products.
With respect to your trademarks, your objective is to have customers recognize your marks as the source for quality products or services within your market. The trademarks you choose may have limited value at their inception, but as your products and services are recognized for their quality and innovation, the goodwill associated with your trademarks grows. An experienced intellectual property attorney will help you secure your trademark rights and help you build their value as your business grows.
Whatever you business or product offerings may be, the value of your IP rights will depend greatly on how well you align your intellectual property protection with your business goals. Make sure you are working with an intellectual property attorney that helps you focus your strategy on valuable rights.